Hazleton, Pa. - The Lady Lions survived a tough defensive effort by Cairn University who held Hazleton to just 31.6 percent shooting from the floor, but scored 27 points off turnovers to maintain a sizeable lead to earn their fourth straight victory to start the season. Hazleton pulled away in the second period, opening up a 20 point advantage at the break, then held off several Highlander runs to finish on top 64-40. Hazleton swiped 21 steals in Tuesday night's contest to limit the offensive effectiveness of the Highlanders, marking the third time this season the Lady Lions have eclipsed the 20 steal plateau.
Hazleton jumped out to an 11-4 midway through the first period, but the Highlanders battled back to cut the lead to just two points after ten minutes. That's as close as Cairn would get as Hazleton stepped up on the defensive side of the floor in the second quarter. Cairn knocked in a pair of jumpers over a 30 second stretch of play, but aside from the two baskets, Hazleton kept the Highlanders off the board. The Lady Lions closed the final six minutes and change of the second period on a 17-0 run including two seven point efforts from sophomore Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, Ny.) and senior Stephanie Guevara (New Brunswick, Nj.) as Hazleton carried a 36-16 lead into halftime.
The Highlanders came out after the break in a zone defense, making it difficult on the slashing Lady Lions to get to the basket for easy chances. Cairn put together several brief runs to cut into Hazleton's lead, but each time, Hazleton responded with a basket to stall the Cairn advances. The Lady Lions would be held to just eight points in the third frame but continued their strong defensive effort, limiting Cairn to just 10 points on 3-13 shooting, forcing six turnovers in the period.
The Lady Lions would save their best shooting effort for the final period to dash any hopes of a Highlander comeback. Hazleton would knock down 7-15 shots from the floor including a nine point period from Laster who went 5-5 from the charity stripe to keep Cairn at bay and exit the building with a 64-40 win.
Payton Emerick provided a spark off the Highlander bench, notching 10 points and eight rebounds, matching Charlotte Camp's 10 point to lead Cairn in the scoring column. Kendra Stum added six points and a team high 11 rebounds in the losing effort.
Three Lady Lion starters notched double-doubles on a night where the offense did not come easy. Stephanie Guevara nearly grabbed a triple double, finishing the game with 11 points, 11 boards and a team high eight steals. Laster led all scorers with 21 points on 7-19 shooting, matching Guevara's 11 rebounds, but it would be junior Jacqlyn Siva-Harrison (South Brunswick, Nj.) who impressed all with a 14 rebound effort for Hazleton. Siva-Harrison dominated the glass on both ends of the floor to secure possessions for the Lady Lions. Siva-Harrison added 10 points and four steals to fill up the box score. Rounding out the Hazleton players in double figures was sophomore Haley Nalls (York, Pa.) who finished the night with 12 points and eight rebounds respectively.
The Lady Lions return to the court on Thursday night for their final home game before the Thanksgiving break. Hazleton will face off with NCAA Division III opponent Lycoming College at 7:00 p.m. on November 17 in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.