Hazleton, Pa. - Looking to stay in the playoff hunt, Hazleton came up short over the weekend with a pair of home losses against Penn State University Athletic Conference western opponents. The Lions fell to Penn State Beaver on Friday night by the score of 86-50 and again on Saturday 74-63 at the hands of Penn State Fayette, falling to 4-6 in the PSUAC with a 5-10 overall record.
Hazleton battle back from a 14 point first quarter deficit against Beaver on Friday night to tie the game at 28 on an old fashioned three point play by freshman Katura McCorkle (Philadelphia, Pa.) but a six minute scoring drought ensued, allowing Beaver to stretch their lead back to double figures by halftime. Following the break, Beaver took over to blow the game open with with pressure defense that translated into 12 Hazleton turnovers and 32 points on the offensive side. Hazleton would trail by as many as 42 points midway through the fourth quarter despite nearly matching Beaver in field goal percentage and out-rebounding the visitors 43-35.
In the end, lack of offensive chances and a 1-11 run from beyond the arc would keep Hazleton out of the running in the this one. McCorkle topped all Hazleton scorers totaling 13 points and seven boards with freshman RosaLydia Caputo (Howard Beach, Ny.) following as Hazleton's only other scorer in double figures with 10 points.
It was a complete turnaround from beyond the arc on Saturday when Hazleton took the floor to wrap up the weekend home stand against Fayette. The Lions knocked in a season high 12 triples but still wasn't enough to keep Fayette from pulling off the victory.
After trailing Fayette 21-16 through the first quarter, the Lady Lions responded late in the second frame to take the lead on a 9-2 run featuring back to back triples by sophomore Jaclyn Hess. Hazleton's final four field goals in the half would come via the three point shot with freshman Angie Ordonez (Bronx, Ny.) giving the Lady Lions a 34-31 advantage with less than a minute to play until a late triple from J'taya Pirl knotted the score at 34 heading into halftime.
The third quarter would see six lead changes as both teams traded blows out of the break. Hazleton continued to shoot the ball well but on almost every occasion, Fayette would answer from the field or the free throw line. With just over two minutes remaining, freshman Alexa Clark (Effort, Pa.) knocked in the Lions third triple of the quarter to cut Fayette's lead to 49-47 and the Lions had a chance to go ahead following a missed opportunity from Fayette. But three Lady Lion turnovers would turn into a 7-1 run by the visitors to close out the third stanza, leaving Hazleton trailing 56-48 heading into the final frame.
Fayette would convert three free throws and a lay up to start off the fourth period, extending their cushion to 13 points. Triples by Hess and freshman Brianna Clark (Effort, Pa.) combined with a pair of timely lay ups by Katura McCorkle would shrink the deficit to six points points by the five minute mark but the Lions would connect on just one field goal inside the final four minutes as Fayette locked up the game from the free throw line.
Fayette would end the game with a 16 point advantage from the charity stripe connecting on 19-of-23 attempts which turned out to be the difference in the game, neutralizing Hazleton's outside shooting attack. Jaclyn Hess led the Lions with 17 points on the afternoon, converting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc while freshman Scarlet Vargas (Bronx, Ny.) totaled 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the loss. McCorkle would add eight points and a dozen boards but ultimately it wasn't enough to stop the Fayette trio of Taylor McCormick, Kaitlyn Riley and Dae-Lin Burnsworth who combined for 66 of Fayette's 74 points on the day.
Next up: Hazleton will look to put a stop to their recent three game skid when the Lions host Penn State York in a crucial PSUAC eastern division matchup on Tuesday, January 28. Tip-off slated for 6:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium