McKeesport, Pa. - The Nittany Lions and Greater Allegheny came into Saturday's matchup both 2-0 in Penn State University Athletic Conference play, but only one squad would remain perfect at the day's end. Hazleton jumped out to a double digit first half lead but an uncharacteristic 24 turnovers committed by the Nittany Lions allowed Greater Allegheny back into the game. Greater Allegheny trailed the Nittany Lions for nearly 24 straight minutes, but clawed back to tie the game in the final six seconds of regulation.
Hazleton trailed in the overtime period, but sophomore Jacob Solano (Bethlehem, Pa.) knotted the score at 66 with 25 seconds to play. Hazleton packed in the defense as Allegheny held for the final possession and with four seconds in extra time, Khari Hicks sank the game winner from downtown to give Greater Allegheny the 69-66 edge.
Junior Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, Ny.) worked his way to the stripe all afternoon, sinking 11 of 14 free throw attempts to finish with a team high 16 points and pulling in six rebounds for Hazleton. Freshman Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) provided the Lions with a much needed spark off the bench, nailing four triples to total 15 points in reserve work.
Other Nittany Lions in double figures included sophomores Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Gregory Depaolis (Grafton, Ny.) who each chipped in 11 points. Hampered by foul trouble on Saturday, junior Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) was limited to just 4 points on the day, but pulled down a team high 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
Curtis Newby's game tying lay-up at the end of regulation gave the forward a team high 16 points, adding 13 rebounds and three steals in the win for Greater Allegheny. Jeremy McMunn pitched in a 13 point, four steal effort while George Prota added eight points and 10 rebounds to round out the top performers for Greater Allegheny.
Greater Allegheny struck first with a 7-0 run to start the game, but the Nittany Lions rallied behind three point baskets from Depaolis and Hopkins to take the lead just over seven minutes into the action. Hazleton would go on to heat up from beyond the arc draining three more from downtown courtesy of Kelly, Hopkins and Nowak to pull ahead from Greater Allegheny. A lay-up from Kelly with 2:23 to play in the half gave Hazleton its largest lead of the game at 29-19 and Hazleton would finish the half strong with a nine point advantage at the break.
Jeremy McMunn answered the bell with two field goals to start of the half, but Hazleton's Nick Nowak returned fire with two long balls that pushed the Lions lead back to 10 points at the 15 minute mark. The Nittany Lions double digit advantage would go back and forth for the next eight minutes of play when the home team began to gain momentum.
Greater Allegheny would capitalize on five Nittany Lion turnovers down the stretch, scoring 10 of their final 20 points off Hazleton miscues in the final 7:40 of regulation. Jeremy McMunn completed a 12-5 Greater Allegheny run to tie the game on a lay-up with 4:38 remaining, putting the pressure back on Hazleton. Hopkins and Jordan Singletary answered right back for the Nittany Lions giving Hazleton a four point margin with 3:00 to play. The freshman point guard would add his fourth triple of the game with 1:39 on the clock and a Kelly free throw put the Lions up 60-55 with just 1:16 remaining in the game. But a costly turnover for Hazleton led to points for the home squad and down the stretch, Hazleton failed to convert at the line, giving Greater Allegheny much needed hope.
Trailing by two with under 30 seconds to play, Greater Allegheny missed its first opportunity but rushed for the offensive rebound, calling timeout with six ticks on the clock. Coming out of the huddle, Allegheny's Khari Hicks, found Newby under the hoop to send the game to extra time.
George Prota and McMunn struck for three quick field goals in the first two minutes of overtime, giving Greater Allegheny its first lead since midway through opening period, a 66-62 advantage for the home team. Hazleton would answer with lay-ups from senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) and Solano, tying the game with just 25 seconds left in overtime.
But with the shot clock turned off, Greater Allegheny could afford to hold for the final shot. Hazleton pressured well, but with the clock winding down, Khari Hicks rose up from beyond the arc, hitting the off balance attempt to capture the 69-66 win for Allegheny.
The Lions return home from their western PSUAC road trip with a split over the weekend and will look to move to 3-1 in the conference on Tuesday, December 6 when Worthington Scranton visits the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium for an 8:00 p.m. start.