Wilkes-Barre, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell to 0-2 on the season with a 70-66 loss at King's College on Friday night. For the second straight game Hazleton rebounded from a slow start, getting 24 combined second half points from sophomore Scott Shamany (Hazleton, Pa.) and freshman Jose David Pena (Hazleton, Pa.) but a 1-for-5 stretch from the field in the final 2:30 of the game by the Lions allowed the Monarchs to pull ahead late and hang on for the win.
King's took command early with eight straight points by Tyler Faux to start the game. Faux would knock in four triples in the half, boosting the Monarchs lead to as many as 16 late in the half. A pair of triples by freshman Brandon Sabulsky (McAdoo, Pa.) and senior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) kept Hazleton in contention but despite heating up late in the half, the Lions trailed by 13 heading into the break.
The Monarchs continued to maintain a double figure cushion for the first eight minutes of the final period although momentum was beginning to shift in Hazleton's favor beginning with Hazleton's second half effort on the glass. With less than 12 minutes to play, Pena sank a jumper to cut the Monarch advantage to 11 points and in doing so kicked off a 10-0 burst for Hazleton over the next four minutes. Over that stretch two offensive rebounds by Shamany led to crucial buckets including a put back lay up by the sophomore and a make from long range by junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) that capped the run. A pair of Monarch free throws extended the lead back to 58-53 in favor of King's though Hazleton came right back with four straight field goals culminating in a Pena jumper from beyond the arc that put the Lions on top for the first time all night and a Shamany lay in to give Hazleton a 62-58 advantage with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Lions had held the Monarchs to just four points over a seven minute stretch late in the half however that would change down the stretch. Faux who started off the game on fire, tacked on his sixth triple of the night with just over three minutes to play, reclaiming the lead for King's at 63-62 followed by a Andrew Hudek free throw to put King's up by two points. Kwiatkowski issued a response field goal to tie the game but Hazleton would come up empty on their next three possessions. That brief lapse was all King's needed to pull out the victory, tacking on a lay up and four makes from the charity stripe down the stretch to claim a two possession victory.
Pena led the second half rally and in doing so topped all Nittany Lion shooters in the scoring column, notching 14 of his team high 19 points in the second half. Shamany was dominant on the glass with a game-high 13 rebounds while going 8-for-14 from the field for 18 points and a double-double in defeat while Kwiatkowski added a double figure effort from the field with 12 points on the night.
Overall, Hazleton out-shot King's 43.5 percent to 38.7 percent for the Monarchs and won the battle on the glass by a margin of ten rebounds that led to 14 second chance points but 19 turnovers and just four made free throws on the night would keep the Lions out of the win column.
Next up: Hazleton continues non-conference action next Tuesday with their third straight road game to start the year. The Lions will travel to Wilkes University on November 12 for a 7:00 p.m. tip off.