Hazleton, Pa. - Three Nittany Lions topped double-figures in the scoring column on Friday night as Hazleton bounced back for a 14 point victory in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium over New Kensington. The Lions held the visitors to just 23 second half points, seeing their halftime lead extended to double-digits as the Lions moved to 2-3 in PSUAC play and 2-6 overall with the 67-53 win.
Friday night's matchup was neck and neck through the first 10 minutes of action. Hazleton trailed New Kensington 15-13 with 9:41 remaining in the first period when senior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) knocked in a jumper that erased Hazleton's only deficit of the night and sparked an 11-2 run that included a pair of buckets by junior Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) and a triple from freshman Jose David Pena (Hazleton, Pa.) within a two minute stretch of time. New Kensington would creep back within three points but each time the visitors came knocking at the door, the Hazleton duo came up with clutch baskets as an answer. Kosciolek and Pena combined for four triples of Hazleton's six makes from beyond the arc to keep the Lions out in front by seven at halftime despite being out-rebounded by New Kensington 17-13 in the half.
Hazleton came out rolling at the start of the second half behind a pair of long range makes by sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) that extended the Lions cushion to double digits. New Kensington would cut the lead to single digits just once in the final 19 minutes of play but Pena and the Lions came up with a quick response to keep the visitors at arms length. Pena would go on to tack on 10 points and eight boards in the period as the Lions cruised to the finish line for the win.
Pena led all scorers on the night with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, adding nine rebounds in the win with teammate Daniel Gendimenico (Hazleton, Pa.) totaling a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead the effort on the glass. Brett Kosciolek finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocked shots while Hopkins generated a game high eight assists in a win that stopped a three game skid for the Lions.
Next up: Hazleton continues conference play on Saturday with a visit from Penn State Shenango at 1:00 p.m.