Lions punch their ticket to the postseason with win at Lehigh Valley

Danny Gendimenico attacks the rim for two points.
Danny Gendimenico attacks the rim for two points.

Bethlehem, Pa. - The Nittany Lions improved to 8-7 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, sealing up their third consecutive bid to the postseason with a win in Stabler Arena on Sunday over Penn State Lehigh Valley. Hazleton held Lehigh Valley to just 27.7 percent shooting from the field while knocking in 12 triples for a runaway victory in the second half, notching the win by the score of 82-50. 

Both squads would duke it out initially and with 8:47 remaining in the first half, Hazleton found themselves trailing Lehigh Valley 20-17. Like hitting a switch, the Nittany Lions caught fire just moments later beginning with a jumper from the top of the key by senior Cordell Muthler (Lock Haven, Pa.). Over the next seven minutes of play, Hazleton would roll on a 17-2 offensive burst with 13 of those point scored by junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.). Kwiatkowski knocked in three triples over that stretch, scoring 11 points in a row during a three minute stretch of the run. Lehigh Valley would be limited to just three points in the final five minutes of the half as Hazleton opened up a 14 point cushion heading into the midway point. 

The Lions carried that momentum into the second half, scoring the first 12 of the final period and extending their margin to 51-25 advantage. Kwiatkowski dumped in three more triples in the half, coupled with a pair of bombs by sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) that helped Hazleton go up by as many 34 points in the half and cruise to finish line for their eighth conference win. The Lions ended the game shooting 41.6 percent from the floor, adding 12 triples and 23 assists to their credit, defeating Lehigh Valley in nearly every statistical category. 

Kwiatkowski was dominant yet again in this one, notching a season high 35 points while going 7-of-16 from long range and toting a team high 14 rebounds. Edwin Ferreras was the only other Nittany Lion in double figures with 12 points and five steals, but eight Hazleton players scored four or more points for a stellar outing collectively. Junior Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) added 10 rebounds for Hazleton while senior Robbie Hopkins totaled eight points and a team high 10 assists in the win. 

Next up: The Nittany Lions are playoff bound but look to continue their march toward a 10 win season in the PSUAC. Hazleton squares off with Penn State Scranton on Tuesday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.