Dunmore, Pa. - Following an eight day vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday, the NIttany Lions returned to the court on Monday night for a non-conference contest at Marywood University. Hazleton was able to shake off some of the rust from the week-long layover, but it was Marywood cruising to victory over the Lions by the score of 76-55.
Hazleton fell behind quickly at the start of the game but a 10-2 run by the Lions midway through the quarter gave Hazleton their first lead of the night. Freshman Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) scored six straight points just prior to the five minute mark followed by buckets from freshman Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) and sophomore Emily Titus (Tamaqua, Pa.) gave Hazleton an 11-10 advantage with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter. But the Lion's first lead of the night would also be their last. Marywood closed out the first quarter on a 7-0 run and after trading baskets in the early stages of the second period, continued to pour in shots from outside and inside the paint. Hazleton connected on just 2-of-13 shooting attempts in the second frame, watching a four point deficit expand into a 21 point cushion at halftime.
Hazleton was able to salvage the night with some positive shooting in the second half, although they were unable to make any significant dents in the Marywood lead. An eight point third quarter effort from Azaria Johnson propelled Hazleton to a 16 point run in the third quarter and after going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc through three periods, freshman Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) connected on three shots from distance in the final quarter as Hazleton and the Pacers finished the game with a second-half stalemate.
After shooting just 23 percent from the field in the first half, the Nittany Lions responded with 13 second half field goals in the final 20 minutes. Hazleton matched Marywood in the majority of the statistical categories on Monday night, but allowed five Pacers to reach double figures in the scoring column including a 15 point, nine assist night from Jade Rolon and a 17 point, seven rebound effort from Kilie Wyers. Hazleton was led by Azaria Johnson who totaled a game-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. Rodriguez added 11 points in the loss while Rocky Curry finished the game with seven points and seven rebounds.
Next up: A quick turnaround for the Nittany Lions who are back in action on Tuesday night for a Penn State University Athletic Conference match up with Penn State Lehigh Valley. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa.