Nanticoke, Pa. - Gritty defense from the Lady Lions led to a multitude of transition opportunities as Penn State Hazleton cruised to victory in their season opener at Luzerne County Community College on Thursday night. All nine players got in on the action, filling the stat sheet in a 93-17 victory in coach Paul Appel's debut as head coach of Lady Lions basketball.
1st Half: The Lady Lions stormed out of the gate with a 10 point run on fast break layups started by a steal in the backcourt. Senior Alexis Daly (Wyalusing, Pa.) led the way in the early going with eight first quarter points as Hazleton continued to pull away from the home team Trailblazers, finishing the first period on a 26-4 run. Hazleton cooled off in the second period, suffering a seven minute scoring drought to open the quarter, but holding strong on defense, limiting their opponent to just five points over the same stretch of time. Daly broke the dry spell with three minutes left in the half and the Lady Lions went on 13-0 run to secure a 39-9 lead at the midway point.
2nd Half: Hazleton continued to net easy buckets in the second half, swiping 16 steals and limiting the Trailblazers to one and done stints on offense. Freshman Ijonana Laster (Niagra Falls, Ny.) went six for seven in the second half as Hazleton went on to shoot 71.4 percent from the field in the final two quarters. By games end, the Lady Lions were able to force the Trailblazers into 44 turnovers leading to the 76 point margin of victory.
Three Lady Lions reached double digits in the win over Luzerne including 18 points from both Daly and Laster. Junior Stephanie Guevara (New Brunswick, Nj.) added twelve points, eight rebounds and seven steals, while sophomore Kamryn Dodd (Stevensville, Md.) secured 10 rebounds and eight points for Hazleton in the win.
Olivia Peistrak and Krista O'Brien led the Trailblazers with six points each while teammate Bailey Taylor chipped in five points and eight rebounds respectively.
Next up: The Lady Lions earn a day off on Friday then head north to SUNY Delhi as they continue their early season non-conference schedule. Tip-off scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday in Delhi, Ny.