Hazleton, Pa. - Senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) went for a season high 25 points on Friday against Penn State Schuylkill in his final game in a Nittany Lion uniform. The Hazleton senior along with sophomore Gregory DePaolis (Grafton, Ny.) led a late second half rally after the Lions fell behind Schuylkill by 20 points. Hazleton would cut that lead to just a two possession ball game with just over two minutes to play, but Schuylkill's Kody Jacoby was clutch from the charity stripe, knocking in seven of eight attempts in the final minutes, keeping the visitors out in front until the final horn to issue Hazleton a 90-80 defeat.
Jacoby led all scorers in the contest with 32 points, adding 10 rebounds in the victory for Schuylkill. Jacoby hit nine of 10 shots from the line and 10 of 14 attempts from the field that included three long range makes to pace the field.
Derek Dimond totaled a team high 12 rebounds to go along with 21 points, reaching the career 1,000 mark midway through the second half. Teammate Jaquan Craig added 17 points and six rebounds to round out the top efforts for Schuylkill.
Richardson's 25 points for the Nittany Lions came on nine of 17 shooting with three triples. The senior went four for five from the stripe, adding a team best four assists in his final game.
Three other Lions ended the night in double figures. DePaolis finished the game with 18 points, nine rebounds and a pair of steals to help lead the second half comeback while freshman Robbie Hopkins (Mt. Top, Pa.) earned 11 points on four of eight shooting. Junior Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, Ny.) added 10 points and four rebounds, shooting 50 percent from the field.
Schuylkill jumped out to an early 20-6 advantage over the Lions led by a 13 point burst from Jacoby in the first six minutes of play. The visitors would maintain a double digit lead until an old fashioned three point play by Dwayne Richardson cut the deficit to nine points with 7:45 left in the half. Richardson's play sparked a 12-2 push for Hazleton that ended with a Kyle Kelly lay up that cut the score to 28-26 in favor of Schuylkill with 5:24 remaining. Schuylkill would grow their lead back to as many as six points but the Lions would keep pace, ending the half on a pair of free throws from junior Royce Brathwaite (Pocono Summit, Pa.) that left the Lions trailing by just four points, 38-34 at the midway point.
In near identical fashion, Schuylkill pulled away from the Lions to start the half, with Richardson tallying Hazleton's only points in the first 4:30 of play. Schuylkill made their way to the hoop for five lay ups over that stretch, adding a triple and pair of free throws to pull ahead 53-39. The visitors would go up by as many as 20 points in the period but with seven minutes to play, the Lions began to gain momentum.
Greg DePaolis would score nine straight for Hazleton, cutting the deficit back down to 11 points with 5:39 left in regulation. After a free throw by Schuylkill, Richardson sunk a pair at the line followed by a pair of transition buckets for Hazleton off Schuylkill turnovers. After a missed shot by Schuylkill, Richardson again connected from long range, capping a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 78-74 Schuylkill with just 2:53 to play. But Hazleton's momentum would stall following a pair of Jacoby free throws. Hazleton would trade scores with the visitors over the next minute and thirty seconds to trail 86-80 with one minute to play, but Jacoby was clutch from the stripe, hitting four of four in the final minute to extend the Schuylkill lead back to double figures by the final horn.
Despite the valiant effort in the season finale, injuries took their toll on the Nittany Lions in the final two weeks of the season as Hazleton ends the year on a four game slide. Hazleton will look to get healthy in the offseason in preparation for next October. Stay tuned to psuhazletonsports.com for end of the year awards and Nittany Lion basketball updates throughout the offseason.