Lady Lions stay hot with 68-44 win at Penn State Schuylkill

Ijonana Laster takes a free throw.
Ijonana Laster takes a free throw.

Shuylkill Haven, Pa. - The Lady Lions (11-2, 6-1 PSUAC) increased their current win streak to seven games on Friday night with a 68-44 win over Penn State University Athletic Conference oppenent, Penn State Schuylkill (1-10, 1-6 PSUAC). Hazleton built great momentum in the opening quarter with a run a gun effort from sophomore McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, Ny.) and senior Stephanie Guevara (New Brunswick, Nj.) who each scored eight points individually in the period to give Hazleton the separation it needed to pick up the win.

Top Performers

Dominique Grasso led all scorers for Schuylkill, tallying 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, converting on three of eight attempts from beyond the arc. Caitria Bowen added an eight point effort in the scoring column while securing nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

For the third straight outing, five Lady Lions ended their evening in double figures. Leading the way was sophomore Haley Nalls (York, Pa.) who topped all scorers in the game with 15 points. Freshman Shelby Berger (Weatherly, Pa.) sparked the offense off the bench to finish with 13 points, converting two of four shots from downtown while sophomore Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, Ny.) pitched in for 11 points and four steals of the basketball.

Prutsman and Guevara both finished the night with 12 point efforts with Guevara earning her third straight double-double securing 12 rebounds.

1st Half

After trailing 4-0 through the first two minutes of action, Hazleton shifted into high gear converting 14 straight fast-break points over the next four minutes of play. Schuylkill was able to slow the Lady Lions' momentum but the Hazleton's fast paced game was on point in the period. A transition triple from Shelby Berger gave the Lady Lions a 19-10 advantage with just over two minutes remaining and Hazleton continued to finish out the quarter on a 7-0 run to hold a 23-10 lead at the first intermission.

Berger continued to heat up from long range as the quarter began and gave the Lady Lions a nice cushion before Schuylkill got going from mid range. A 6-0 run by the home team cut the Hazleton advantage to just eight points midway through the period but the Lady Lions retaliated as halftime approached. Laster and Nalls combined for four field goals, part of an 8-2 run to finish the finish the quarter, putting Hazleton up 42-26 at the break.

2nd half

Dominique Grasso hit a pair of triples for Schuylkill in the third but the Lady Lion defense was about to pick up. Hazleton had their best defensive effort of the night holding Schuylkill to just seven points in the period, and shutting out the home team for the final 5:39 of the quarter. Hazleton had its own offensive struggles in the period, shooting just 25 percent from the field, but still managed to double the Schuylkill output, putting the game out of reach at 56-33.

The defensive struggled continued for both squads in the final period, but the Lady Lions cushion held up in large part thanks to an eight for 11 effort from the charity stripe. Haley Nalls connected on all four of her attempts from the line while junior Jacqlyn Siva-Harrison (South Brunswick, Nj. cleaned eight up rebounds in the final act to secure the 68-44 victory. 

Next up

Hazleton looks to keep the ball rolling next Tuesday when they host Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium. Game scheduled to be broadcasted locally on WYLN-35 with coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m.