Hazleton, Pa. - The Lady Lions got within two points of defending PSUAC champion Penn State Lehigh Valley late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's conference showdown. Hazleton rallied with a 19 point effort in the fourth quarter, until an 8-2 run by the visitors in the final three minutes of play dealt the Lady Lions their fourth conference loss of the season by the final score of 64-56.
After a slow start, Hazleton found themselves trailing by six after the first quarter, but responded with a strong effort in the second half against the stout defense of Lehigh Valley. Freshman Scarlet Vargas (Bronx, Ny.) connected on two of Hazleton's four triples in the period, combined with a a strong group effort on the glass got the Lady Lions back on track and enter halftime with just a five point deficit, 32-27 in favor of Lehigh Valley.
As play resumed however, Hazleton couldn't keep the momentum rolling and Lehigh Valley forced 10 Hazleton turnovers in the 3rd quarter to reclaim the initiative. Hazleton connected on just three field goals in the period, seeing Lehigh Valley go up by as many a 14 points during the third quarter and held a 50-37 advantage heading into the final stanza. But the Lions weren't finished off yet and started the fourth quarter on fire. Freshman Alexa Clark (Effort, Pa.) reeled off six Hazleton scores in the first four minutes of action, part of a 12-3 Hazleton run that got the Lions right back into contention. Freshman Phillis Fugah (Philadelphia, Pa.) got in on the action, scoring seven points in the quarter including a free throw that got Hazleton within two points of tying the game at 56-54 with just 3:18 left in regulation, but Lehigh Valley's Taylor Styles responded with a pair of makes at the charity stripe and clutch basket from beyond the arc to stretch the cushion back to seven points. Hazleton would manage just one field goal in the final minutes as Lehigh hung on for the narrow victory.
Vargas knocked in 3-of-9 shots from beyond the arc, ending the game as Hazleton's top scorer with 18 points followed by Clark who went 5-for-15 from the field to tally 15 points along with three steals to round out the top scorers for Hazleton. Sophomore Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) added 12 rebounds while Fugah totaled nine points and six boards in just 15 minutes of work as Hazleton closes out the semester with the loss.
Next up: Hazleton will be back in action in January of 2020 when the Lady Lions head to Penn State Scranton on January 14.