Hazleton, Pa. - An 18 point second half by freshman Jose David Pena (Hazleton, Pa.) spurred the Nittany Lions to their third conference win of the season as Hazleton topped Penn State Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night by the score of 64-45.
Points were hard to come by in the final game of the year with both squads shooting well below 20 percent from beyond the arc. Hazleton combatted their outside shooting struggles with quality play on the inside between their penetrating guard play and solid outings from the interior players. On two occassions in the first half, the Nittany Lions found offense in spurts, surging ahead with a 12-2 run after Lehigh Valley opened the game with a 7-3 lead and then again with a 10-2 inside the final 10 minutes of play to maintain a double figure lead at halftime. Sophomores Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) and Daniel Gendimenico (Hazleton, Pa.) led the charges with both players knocking in four field goals in the first half as Hazleton headed to the locker room with a 31-20 advantage at the break.
The Lions scored early in the second half to go up by as many as 16 but the Lions would go scoreless for a five minute stretch, seeing their lead diminish to single digits but with 11:29 to play in the game, Pena took over. The freshman small forward sliced and diced his way to the basket, notching 15 points over the next eight minutes of action with five of those fields goals coming off lay ups. Pena's efforts gave the Lions a comfortable double digit advantage, allowing the Lions to run the clock out in the final minutes of play and head into the winter break with a much needed victory.
Pena was dominant on the offensive end on Tuesday but equally impressive on the glass. The freshman led all players on the night with game highs in the box score across the board. Pena totaled 24 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and six steals to close out the semester and drive the squad to victory. Ferreras and Gendimenico also finished in double figures with the majority of their tallies coming in the opening period. Ferreras finished 4-for-9 from the field for 13 points to go along with three steals while Gendimenico added 12 points, three steals and a pair of blocked shots. Rounding out the top efforts on the was junior Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) who filled up the box score with eight points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots respectively.
Next up: Hazleton resumes play on Tuesday, January 14 when the Lions travel to Penn State Scranton to continue PSUAC play.