HAZLETON, Pa. - A tale of two halves was the story on Tuesday night as Penn State Hazleton escaped with an 81-79 win over Penn State Scranton in a Penn State University Athletic Conference men's basketball game.
The Nittany Lions (5-6, 3-1 PSUAC) parlayed an 18-point halftime lead into a victory, but not without a comeback attempt from their visitors. Hazleton led 44-26 at the half, but Scranton would score 53 points in the second half to nearly force overtime.
Hazleton used hot shooting late in the first half, and would finish nearly 50 percent from the field on the night, including 10-for-31 from behind the arc. Otherwise it was a fairly evenly matched game as Scranton held a slight edge in rebounds (43-42) and steals (8-4), while Hazleton dished out 24 assists to Scranton's 18.
Junior Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) had season-highs of 23 points and 20 rebounds to lead Hazleton. Junior teammate Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, NY) added 22 points against his old teammates, one of four Nittany Lions to finish in double figures. Senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) added 13 points while sophomore Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) added 10.
Arel Lamour led Scranton with 23 points, including 4-for-11 from three. The Lions hoisted 46 shots from behind the arc, making 14.
All of the game's two ties and 10 lead changes occurred in the first 14 minutes of play, with eight of those lead changes occurring in a six minute stretch over the middle of the half. Hazleton held a 10-point advantage five minutes into the game, but a 13-2 Scranton rally gave the Lions their first lead since 3-2 just 30 seconds in.
The next six minutes saw back and forth action until a Gregory DePaolis (Grafton, NY) three made it 26-24. Hazleton would not trail again as Richardson would score 10 of Hazleton's next 12 points during a 21-0 run to extend the lead to 44-24. A late Scranton layup made it 44-26, but Hazleton had already built what seemed to be an insurmountable lead.
Except that lead would not be completely safe. Scranton inched closer throughout the half, using short runs and hitting 10 of their 14 triples during their comeback attempt. Hazleton would score steadily, but it wasn't at the same clip as the Lions, who chipped away at their 18-point deficit, eventually making it a 10-point game with 13:27 to play.
Layups from Nowak and Singletary got the Nittany Lions back on track, but Scranton clawed back to another 10-point deficit before Hazleton stretched it back to 14 with 9:08 left. A 12-point advantage with 5:02 to play quickly dwindled as an 8-0 Scranton run made it 75-71 with just under three minutes left. Kelly hit a layup and two free throws to make it an eight point Hazleton lead, but Scranton used a layup from Lamour and a three-pointer to cut the lead to three with just 10 seconds remaining.
Freshman Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) virtually iced the game with two free throws, giving Hazleton an 81-76 lead. With five seconds remaining, Scranton pushed the ball up the court and hit a three with 0.7 seconds left, but Hazleton was able to run out the clock and emerge victorious.
Next Up: Hazleton hits the road for their final game of the season's first half, traveling to Penn State York on Friday, December 9th for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off. A win will even the Lions' record at 6-6, including 4-1 in the conference.