York, Pa. - Hazleton dropped their second straight Penn State University Athletic Conference game on Saturday with an 82-69 road loss to Penn State York. The Lions were slow starters on the afternoon and despite a solid effort in the final period, Hazleton failed to overcome a 19 point halftime deficit.
Juniors Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Brandon Mohammed (Albrightsville, Pa.) combined to score 23 points in the first half of Saturday's game, but the supporting cast of the Nittany Lions tallied just five points in the half. That combination proved to be a bad recipe against the number one seed in the PSUAC eastern division as York served up efficient offense from the opening whistle. York's starting five went 16-for-22 in the opening 20 minutes and collectively, eight different players tallied baskets for the home squad. York was equally impressive on the glass in the first half, securing seven second chance opportunities and out-rebounding Hazleton by a margin of 13 boards as they methodically built up a 19 point advantage by the midway point on Saturday.
Hazleton would play some inspired basketball coming out of the break and nearly pulled off a miracle comeback during the final period. Kwiatkowski scored the first seven points of the second half, part of a 15-4 run by Hazleton in the first five minutes of action that cut the York lead back to single digits. The Lions remained hot and following back to back triples by Kwiatkowski and junior Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) around the 10 minute mark, Hazleton trailed by just six points at 60-54 in favor of York. Both squads would trade buckets over the next several minutes but with Hazleton trailing 69-63 and just five minutes to play, York went on a pivotal 11-2 run capped by a Deriq Brown slam that all but sealed up the win with just over two minutes remaining.
Kwiatkowski topped all scorers in the game with 33 points, marking the fourth time this season the junior has surpassed the 30 point mark in a game. Brandon Mohammed added 11 points, seven rebounds and a pair blocked shots while sophomore Edwin Ferreras (Passaic, Nj.) notched a double-figure game with 11 points and a pair steals in the loss to round our Hazleton's top efforts.
Next up: The Nittany Lions enter the final week of the regular season with a pair of home games remaining on the schedule. Hazleton will kick things off on Tuesday, February 18 with a televised game against Penn State Wilkes-Barre at 8:00 p.m. from the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.