Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions trailed by as many as 15 in Tuesday night's Penn State University Athletic Conference opener but stormed back in the second half to force overtime with Penn State Brandywine and capture their first win of the season on a buzzer beating triple by junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) by the score of 76-75.
Hazleton got off to hot start until Brandywine's Ketquan Gatewood took over, scoring 11 points over a five minute stretch of play that gave Brandywine a 23-17 advantage midway through the first period. Hazleton nearly let the game get away from them if not for some defensive rescues by sophomore Scott Shamany (Hazleton, Pa.) who closed down the paint with an impressive seven blocked shots in the half. Shamany would add nine points in the period, including a layup that trimmed the Brandywine advantage to just two points with less than five minutes to play although Hazleton would tally just one score to close out the half, seeing Brandywine end the period on an 8-2 run and lead 41-33 at halftime.
Brandywine extended their advantage to double figures on two separate occasions in second half including a 15 point margin with just over 12 minutes remaining. Just as they did in the first period though, the Lions defense was about to step up. Hazleton limited Brandywine to just three field goals in the final 10 minutes of play, adding five steals and several second chance opportunities that contributed to the comeback effort.
Prior to the 10 minute mark in the second half, Hazleton had converted just one shot from beyond the arc until freshman Jose David Pena (Hazleton, Pa.) knocked in a triple with 8:26 to play that cut the lead to just six points and as both teams traded points down the stretch, sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) sank back to back three point shots that made it a one possession game at 63-60 in favor of Brandywine with less than three minutes to play. Scott Shamany would go on to tack on two lay ups in the final two minutes, completing the comeback in the last seconds of regulation as he found Kwiatkowski on a back door pass. Kwiatkowski sank the contested close range jumper with 10 seconds remaining to knot the score at 66 each and take the game to extra minutes.
Brandywine surged ahead late in the overtime period and had several chances to close out the game at the free throw line in overtime but converted just 1-of-4 attempts in the last 15 seconds of action that left the door open for the Lions. Hazleton retrieved the rebound off Brandywine's final miss from the charity stripe, drove the length of the court and worked for a last second opportunity. Scott Shamany kicked the ball out to Kwiatkowski on the left wing and with 1 tick left on the clock, the junior guard rose up and knocked in the go ahead bucket from distance.
Hazleton battled back for the win despite losing the rebounding category by a margin of 14 and surviving 11 triples by Brandywine shooters. Kwiatkowski's game winner gave the junior 23 points on the night matching the game high for either teams. Shamany added 21 points in the win with eight blocked shots, six rebounds and five assists. Other top efforts included Ferreras in double figures with 12 points and 18 rebounds brought in by sophomore Daniel Gendimenico (Hazleton, Pa.)
Next up: The Nittany Lions visit Penn State DuBois on Friday, November 22 for a 7:00 p.m. tip off followed by a 3:00 p.m. contest on Saturday at Penn State Greater Allegheny.