Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (6-11, 4-6 PSUAC) won both the rebounding and points in the paint category on Tuesday night when they faced off with Penn State Wilkes-Barre on their home floor, but lost the turnover battle by a margin of 11 as they fell to their local Penn State University Athletic Conference rival by the score of 62-57. Wilkes-Barre opened a commanding lead in the first half behind the red hot shooting of their outside scorers, but the Lions rallied to pull ahead late in the second half. But back to back triples from Wilkes-Barre's Christopher Cantine helped the visitors retake the advantage in the final minutes of play and Wilkes-Barre hung on to earn the win by a slim margin over the Nittany Lions.
Jheron Dawson-Johnson and Cantine each netted 15 points to lead all Wilkes-Barre scorers. Dawson-Johnson was a perfect four for four from beyond the arc in the first half and finished the game five for six to tally all of his points from long range. Cantine was four of 12 from long distance while adding seven assists. DeAndre Monroe fiished the night with 10 points and nine rebounds while teammate Colton Lewis notched eight points and a team high 10 rebounds.
Hazleton had just two players in double figures on Tuesday night and was led once more by sophomore Jacob Solano (Bethlehem, Pa.) Solano shot over fifty percent from the floor including two for two from three point range to total a game high 28 points. Junior Jordan Singletary nearly totaled a triple-double earning 10 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots, another fine effort from the thrid year big man.
Jehron Dawson Johnson connected on his first four attempts from long range as Wilkes-Barre to control early. Johnson's fourth make gave the visitors a 18-11 lead with just under 13 minute remaining in the half before a Solano triple cut the lead back to four points moments later. As the half progressed, Wilkes-Barre steadily out-shot Hazleton, building their lead to as many as 16 points in the half on a david Rogers jumper with just over four minutes to play, but Hazleton responded with a three from junior Royce Brathwaite and Nick Nowak jumper to cut the lead to 11. Both squads would go scoreless down the stretch in the final two minutes, giving Wilkes-Barre the double digit advantage, 35-24 at the break.
Sophomore Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Solano tallied three quick field goals to start the half, shrinking the Wilkes-Barre lead to single digits, but once more, Dawson-Johnson connected for his fifth triple to stop the bleeding. Both teams would trade blows until the Nittany Lions made a run midway through the half. Trailing by five with uner 11 minutes to play, Jordan Singletary sparked a 6-0 run for Hazleton with an offensive rebound and put back. Solano followed with a pair of lay ups and Hazleton had its first lead of the game at 47-46. After a Colton Lewis lay-up, Solano would connect on three straight free throws to put the Lions up two but after an outstanding comeback effort, Hazleton would be unable to maintain the advantage.
With five minutes to play, Christopher Cantine made one of two from the charity stripe, then made good on two pure attempts from long range, quickly erasing Hazleton's small cushion and putting the visitors back on top 55-0 with 4:23 remaining. Hazleton was unable to get they stops they needed in the final four minutes as both teams traded baskets down the stretch resulting in the five point win for Wilkes-Barre.
The loss bumps Hazleton back to a tie for eighth place in the PSUAC with Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Hazleton will next take the floor on Friday night when Penn State DuBois visits the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium. Tip-off schedule for 8:00 p.m.