Uniontown, Pa. - The Lady Lions held the United States Collegiate Athletic Association's top shooting team to just 31.6 percent from the field, but failed to capitalize on their end of the floor and UC Clermont rallied in the fourth quarter to upset the number two seeded Lady Lions in the USCAA National Tournament by a score of 61-54. Hazleton shot just 25.7 percent from the field and tied a season high with 25 turnovers on Thursday contributing to a 25-13 fourth quarter victory for the seventh seeded Cougars.
First quarter jitters for both teams led to a slow first quarter start and an even 11-11 split through the first 10 minutes of play. Pace picked up in the second period, and Hazleton pulled ahead late in the quarter as sophomore Kamryn Dodd (Stevensville, Md.) and senior Alexis Daly (New Albany, Pa.) found room to work in the paint, cleaning up missed shots and following up with easy layups. Dodd and Daly both finished the half with eight points each. Freshmen McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, Ny.) and Haley Nalls (York, Pa.) earned three layups late in the second period to give Hazleton a 29-26 edge over the Cougars at halftime, but the Hazleton failed to convert on all but one jump shot outside of the paint, a trend that would continue in the second half.
The Lady Lions connected on just three field goals in the third period but maintained a five point cushion heading into the fourth quarter, adding six of six free throws and forcing UC-Clermont into difficult shot attempts as they had done all game.
A Dodd lay-in and free throw from freshman Kassie Ferdinand (Mountain Top, Pa.) put the Lions up eight points to start the fourth quarter, but with 8:27 to play, UC-Clermont began to heat up. The Cougars connected on four triples and a lay-up over the next four plus minutes of action, a 14-6 offensive run that knotted the score at 50-50 with four minutes remaining. Hazleton would manage just four free throws down the stretch as the Cougars pulled away to shock the Lions and advance to the semi-finals.
Emily Frye led the Cougars with 12 points, five steals, and three assists while All-American Arica Stuts chipped in a double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds despite fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Kelsey Finn pulled in a game high 18 rebounds and five assists from the guard position, adding nine points in the victory.
Four Lady Lions reached double figures and provided the bulk of scoring for Hazleton. Prutsman led the way with 13 points and 7 steals. Dodd and Daly notched double-doubles with 12 points each with 13 rebounds going to Daly while Dodd pulled in 11. Haley Nalls added 10 points to round out the top scorers, going 6-7 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Lions will have to bounce back to end their season on a high note following two disappointing losses in their last two post-season games. Hazleton will square off with Southern Maine Community College at 2:00 p.m. on Friday in the consolation bracket.