Nittany Lions win weekend clash with the PSUAC West

Rocky Curry battles through defenders.
Rocky Curry battles through defenders.

Hazleton, Pa. - Hazleton capped a tremendous week of basketball with a pair of wins this weekend on their home court against the PSUAC West. The Lions ran away with a 39 point victory over Penn State DuBois on Friday night before locking horns with Greater Allegheny for three and a half quarters before prevailing late by the score of 78-68. 

Friday, November 18 - Penn State Hazleton 73, Penn State DuBois 34 - Final

This game was all about the Nittany Lion defense as Hazleton limited DuBois to just 26 percent shooting from the field combined with the Lions forcing Dubois into 36 turnovers for the game. DuBois would connect on the game's opening basket, but it was all Hazleton from that point on. The Lion's defensive presence combined with a steady dose of offense from the likes of sophomore Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) allowed the Lions to build a convincing 19 point lead by the midway point. Curry remained hot in the second half, notching ten points in the period while teammates, sophomores Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) and Natasha Feliciano (Cainovas, PR) combined for four triples in the third quarter. That effort put the Lions up by more than 30 points heading into the final quarter, allowing Hazleton to a low-stress finish. 

Coming off her first career triple-double, Curry posted a season high with 26 points on Friday night. The sophomore went 12-of-20 from the field, adding 17 rebounds and four assists to lead the squad offensively. Rodriguez notched three triples on the night to total 13 points while sophomore Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) chipped in for 10 points, six rebounds and five steals. Senior Justine Bernazeau (Trelissac, FR) added a season high nine assists in the runaway win. 

Saturday, November 19 - Penn State Hazleton 78, Penn State Greater Allegheny 68 - Final

In stark contrast from Hazleton's previous two outings, Greater Allegheny gave Hazleton all they could handle heading into the Thanksgiving holiday break. The visitors connected on 10 three point baskets in the game but in the end it was not enough to match Hazleton's red hot shooting and savvy rebounding effort. Hazleton spread the wealth on offense all afternoon and individuals came through in big spots throughout the game. Five Nittany Lions combined for 16 points in the first quarter to help Hazleton to a four point lead but the second period belonged to Azaria Johnson who was perfect from the field with ten points in the quarter. Despite the ease of offense, Greater Allegheny kept right with the Lions, tallying 18 points in the period to trail by just five at the break. 

It was Cassandra Rodriguez's time to shine as play resumed in the second half. The sophomore came out firing, connecting on three straight makes from beyond the arc and extending Hazleton's lead to 12 points. But Allegheny steadily chipped away at Hazleton's lead, besting Hazleton by 10 points over the course of the next eight minutes of play until Rocky Curry pushed the lead back to four points with a jumper at the end of the period. The game remained very much in doubt up until the five minute mark when Greater Allegheny's Naveah Maynes drilled a three to bring the visitors within one point at 63-62 Hazleton. But the Lions were cool under the pressure and proceed to post the next 11 points in regulation. Hazleton got buckets from Curry, Bernazeau and Johnson on the 11-0 run and took their biggest lead of the night with just 1:11 remaining to seal up the win. 

It was a big day for a number of Nittany Lions who shot nearly 54 percent from the field in the win. Johnson led all scorers in the game, going for 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field with nine rebounds. Rodriguez would finish the game with five triples to her credit to total 17 points while senior Jeny Rivera (Las Peidras, PR) was steady all game long to notch a season high 17 points on 8-of-13 from the field. Rounding out the top efforts for Hazleton was Rocky Curry who nearly collected her second triple-double of the week before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Curry totaled 13 points to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds with seven assists in the win. 

Next up: Hazleton closes out the first portion of conference play with three wins and will look to continue that trend when play resumes on November 29 when the Lions square off with Penn State Lehigh Valley.