Lions overcome Berkeley Knights in season opener

Cassandra Rodriguez dribbles the ball up court.
Cassandra Rodriguez dribbles the ball up court.

Hazleton, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton broke the ice with a 52-43 win over Berkeley College (Ny.) on Friday night, marking a successful start to the 2022-23 campaign. Hazleton emerged victorious from a very even matchup with both teams shooting nearly identical from the field, in the rebounding column and the turnover department. But the Lions took advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line and got a great third quarter boost from sophomore Cassandra Rodriguez (Leauge City, Tx.) to pull away in the second half. 

After a back and forth first half left the two teams tied at 23-23 in the first half, Berkeley would open up their biggest lead of the game in the third quarter, notching three field goals by the six minute mark in the quarter to go up 29-24 over Hazleton. But Hazleton would limit the Knights to just one field goal for the remainder of the quarter, while getting a burst of nine points from Rodriguez who went 3-for-4 from the free throw line and sunk a pair of triples in the period to give Hazleton a seven point advantage heading into the final quarter. Berkeley would get to within two possessions of Hazleton in the fourth quarter, but the Lions connected on six free throws and got a pair of timely baskets from senior Jeny Rivera (Las Piedras, PR) to maintain their lead and hold on for a nine point win. 

Rodriguez led the pack for Hazleton, going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc to total 21 points on the night offensively. Rivera racked up 11 points in the win, adding 10 rebounds in the win while sophomore Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) totaled 10 points and a team high 15 rebounds to give the Lions two players with double-doubles on the night. 

Next up: Hazleton will continue non-conference play this week beginning with a trip to Wilson College on Tuesday, November 8 for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.