McKeesport, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell to 3-3 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference following a 72-63 loss at Penn State Greater Allegheny on Saturday afternoon. Hazleton outshot Greater Allegheny for the day, firing at 51 percent from the field compared to just 34.6 percent for the home team, however Greater Allegheny forced 31 turnovers defensively. Those extra opportunities resulted in 35 points for Greater Allegheny and proved to be the deciding factor in Saturday's loss for the Lions.
It was a tumultuous first half but eventually resulted in a virtual stalemate for both teams. Hazleton leapt ahead late in the first quarter following a pair of triples from freshman Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) and got six points in the paint from junior Justine Bernazeau (Trelissac, FR) as the Lions exploded for 16 points in the last four minutes of the period to lead 26-13 after the first. Sophomore Emily Titus kicked in a pair of field goals early in the second but with 7:30 to play in the half and Hazleton leading 32-20, Greater Allegheny responded with a 15-2 run over the next four minutes of action to erase Hazleton's cushion. The Lions would turn the ball 10 times in the quarter and registered to two field goals over the final seven minutes of the half, finding themselves trailing 39-36 at halftime.
Hazleton trailed by as many as nine points following a three minute scoring drought to start the second half, but the Lions were sparked by a pair of field goals by sophomore Emily Titus (Tamaqua, Pa.) midway through the quarter and got five straight points to end the quarter from freshman Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) to get within two points of Greater Allegheny by the start of the final period. With momentum on their side, Hazleton freshman Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) got to the rim for a pair of lay ups early in the fourth to give Hazleton their first lead since the second period but Greater Allegheny responded with four consecutive makes to go ahead by six points with three minutes to play. Hazleton had their chances to close the gap, but turnovers on four possessions down the stretch gave Greater Allegheny the edge down the stretch, expanding their lead to nine points by the finish.
Greater Allegheny shot just over 22 percent from long range but forty attempts still netted the home team nine triples on the day. Greater Allegheny's Tomisha Pierce notched three of those triples on the afternoon, leading to a game high 25 point effort to lead all scorers in the game. Cassandra Rodriguez led Hazleton in the loss, shooting 88 percent from the field including four triples for 18 points. Emily Titus connected for 13 points and eight rebounds while Azaria Johnson chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Next up: Hazleton is off until next weekend for the final two games of the fall semester. The Lions will wrap up their schedule with the western division beginning on Friday, December 10 when Hazleton squares off with Penn State New Kensington in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.