Bethlehem, Pa. - Hazleton was slowed out of the gates in Stabler Arena on Sunday afternoon, falling behind to Penn State Lehigh Valley who pulled away for a near wire to wire victory. Hazleton would heat up in spurts but couldn't slow down the Lehigh Valley offense resulting in an 87-55 loss, dropping Hazleton to 5-9 in the PSUAC while the home team improved to 10-4 in conference play.
The Lady Lions only lead of the day came early on in the contest on a triple by sophomore Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) just one minute into the game. Hazleton would contain Lehigh Valley and keep it to a one possession game until 3:38 remaining in the first quarter when Lehigh Valley's pressure led to a string of baskets. Overall, the home squad forced nine first quarter turnovers and ended the period on a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 21-6 after 10 minutes of play.
Hazleton would bounce back late in the second quarter after falling behind by as many as 22 points in initial stages of the second frame. Freshmen RosaLydia Caputo (Howard Beach, Ny.) and Alexa Clark (Effort, Pa.) connected on multiple field goals in the period, combined with three triples by Hess, sending Hazleton on their way to a 20 point quarter. While the Hazleton offense got going, the Lions could do very little to keep Lehigh Valley off the scoreboard. Despite zero triples in the half, Lehigh Valley poured the ball into the paint and attacked the rim, leading to Hazleton foul trouble and multiple trips to the charity stripe where they would connect on 10-of-11 in the half on their way to a Lehigh Valley would end the half carrying a 44-26 advantage.
Little would change in the second half as Lehigh Valley continued to pour in the offense and trading baskets meant no comeback was in store for the Lady Lions. Freshman Scarlet Vargas got hot in the fourth quarter, sinking three triples and a conventional two point try but Lehigh Valley was able to maintain sustain the run with quality looks at the basket on the opposite end, eventually extending their cushion and securing the 87-55 win.
Three Lady Lions finished in double-figures on the afternoon. Vargas finished 4-for-11 from beyond the arc to notch 16 points with Hess and freshman Brianna Clark (Effort, Pa.) totaling 12 points each. RosaLydia Caputo ended the game with a team high 15 points, six points and a pair of blocked shots.
Next up: Hazleton enters a crucial stretch of games as they look to remain in the playoff hunt. The Lions match up with Penn State Scranton on Tuesday, February 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.