Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions battled back from a late deficit to force overtime against the University of Maine-Fort Kent on Thursday night, but a 6-0 run in extra time by the Bengals gave Fort Kent a 79-76 victory over Hazleton.
Both squads traded shots in the early stages of play until Hazleton Hazleton broke away from the Bengals with a flurry of outside connections. With 10 minutes remaining in the half, the Nittany Lions embarked on a 15-2 run featuring three straight baskets from beyond the arc. Junior Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) knocked in the first triple with 9:17 left to play followed by back to back makes by junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) as Hazleton surged ahead for an eight point advantage with just over five minutes to play.
Hazleton entered the midway point with a 36-30 lead and started the final period on a tear. A triple from senior Robbie Hopkins (Mountain Top, Pa.) was followed by an old fashioned three point play by sophomore Scott Shamany (Hazleton, Pa.) giving Hazleton their largest cushion of the night at 44-30.
That double-digit advantage would be short-lived however as Hazleton converted just one field goal over the next six minutes of play. Hazleton's lead dwindled to just two points by the eight minute mark and with 7:20 remaining, the Bengals completed the comeback on a Patrick Pauwels lay up. Fort Kent continued to command the momentum, taking a three point lead with two minutes to play but the Lions finished off the half strong, tying the game late, 62-62 on a lay up by junior Brandon Mohammed (Albrightsville, Pa.).
Robbie Hopkins kicked off the overtime period with his third triple of the night but the Lions would be plagued by missed opportunities in the extra time. The Bengals took advantage of four missed free throws and a turnover by Hazleton, opening up a nine point lead with just 40 seconds to play. Hazleton scrapped their way back to make it a one possession game but would run out of time in this one, falling 79-76 to the Bengals.
In the end, Hazleton would outshoot Maine by a wide margin, although the loss came in turnover margin (24-14) and at the charity stripe where Hazleton made just 15-of-30 attempts. The Lions were led by Kwiatkowski who tallied 19 points on the evening. Scott Shamany added a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. followed by Brandon Mohammed's 13 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) totaled 14 points in the loss.
Next up: The Lions return to PSUAC play on Tuesday, January 21 when Hazleton visits Penn State Schuylkill for a 6:00 p.m. matchup.