LANGHORNE, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton picked up their fourth win in impressive fashion on Wednesday night, running past host Cairn, 87-49, in a non-conference win over their NCAA Division III opponent. The Lady Lions (4-1, 0-0 PSUAC) trailed only twice, both times in the first quarter, before turning up the defensive pressure that created separation in the final three stanzas.
Freshman Mackenzie Prutsman (Jasper, NY) had her best game in a Hazleton uniform, pouring in a career-high 22 points. The point guard started the game with a three-pointer and rarely missed after that. Prutsman would finish a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line, 2-for-2 from behind the arc and 8-for-9 overall.
All nine Lady Lions found the basket, and four starters finished in double-figures. Senior Alexis Daly (Wyalusing, Pa.) hit her season average with 17 points while grabbing a game-high nine boards.
Hazleton bounced back from a poor shooting night on Tuesday at Lycoming to go 34-for-73 (47 percent) from the field on Wednesday. Despite being outrebounded 46-39, Hazleton controlled the paint, scoring 40 points in the lane and 19 second chance points.
Defense was a strength on this night, as Hazleton forced 32 turnovers while only committing 12 of their own. The Lady Lions turned those errors into 32 points of their own, while also holding Cairn to 32 percent from the field.
Prutsman put Hazleton on the board with an opening three-pointer, and despite Cairn grabbing leads at 7-6 and 10-8, Hazleton would never trail again. Daly hit a three of her own to give the Lions an 11-10 advantage as Hazleton finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run for a 17-10 lead.
Sophomore Jacqlyn Siva-Harrison (South Brunswick, NJ) scored the first seven points of the second quarter for Hazleton, including a three-pointer with 7:04 remaining to extend the lead to 10 at 24-14. Five different Lady Lions would score over the next seven minutes, including four points from freshman Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, NY).
Cairn did pull within three late in the second quarter, as the 10-point Hazleton lead was nearly extinguished with an 11-4 Highlanders run. But the visitors were quick to answer with a 14-0 run of their own to finish the quarter and enter halftime with a 42-25 lead.
With Hazleton leading 46-30 after exchanging baskets to begin the second half, Prutsman scored the next seven points as the Lady Lions pulled away. As Daly and Prutsman continued to lead the offense, junior Stephanie Guevara (North Brunswick, NJ) added five points late in the quarter to help give Hazleton a 65-38 lead after three quarters. Guevara would finish with 12 points and five steals, while sophomore Kamryn Dodd (Stevensville, Md.) rounded out the scorers in double-figures for Hazleton with 11 points.
Despite sitting in an extended 2-3 zone for much of the game, Hazleton held Cairn to only 24 second-half points. The Lady Lions would extend their lead in the fourth, forcing turnovers and controlling the clock. Even with a slower tempo, Hazleton was able to score 22 points in the final quarter to finish off their 38-point win.
Prutsman earns the Lady Lions' player of the game honors, finishing with team-highs of 22 points, five steals and three assists. Her shooting performance was also one of the best ever for a Hazleton player who attempted more than five shots. Even more impressive is her protection of the ball, committing no turnovers despite touching the ball on nearly every Hazleton possession.
Amie Eppolito finished with a game-high 29 points for the Highlanders, who fell to 0-2 with the loss.
NEXT UP: The Lady Lions return home when they host Trinity Washington University on Saturday, Nov. 21st at 3:00 p.m.