Lions improve to fourth place in eastern division with win at York

Natasha Feliciano defends on the perimeter.
Natasha Feliciano defends on the perimeter.

York, Pa. - Hazleton picked up their seventh conference victory of the season on Tuesday night, topping York 75-67 in what was a must win game for the Nittany Lions. Hazleton led at halftime but a poor third quarter left the game very much up for grabs heading into the fourth quarter. The Lions got a combined 15 points from sophomore Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) and senior Natasha Feliciano (Cainovas, PR), spurring the squad to victory in the final quarter for an eight point decision. 

Two Nittany Lions were pivotal in giving Hazleton the early lead on Tuesday. Sophomore's Ashley James (Weatherly, Pa.) and Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) combined for seven first half triples, accounting over half of the Hazleton point total in the first 20 minutes of play. James scored 10 points and connected on two triples in the first quarter, part of an 11 point comeback by Hazleton in the first quarter to give the Lions a one point edge at the first intermission and backed up her play with two more triples in the second quarter. Rodriguez went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in the second quarter alone, pushing her squad towards a six point halftime advantage. 

Leading York 40-34 at the break, Hazleton slumped in the third quarter after sophomore Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) sank the first bucket of the half. Hazleton made just one field goal over the next five minutes in change allowing York to get right back into the game. York's Jayla Brown contributed 13 points in the quarter as Hazleton fell behind 53-50 heading into the penultimate quarter. York connected on two field goals early in the final period, but the Nittany Lions weathered the storm and never trailed by more than four points in the fourth. With just under five minutes to play, Azaria Johnson turned over the York offense and scored at the opposite end to allow Hazleton to reclaim the lead and Rocky Curry followed on the next Hazleton possession to put the Lions up 63-60. Down the stretch, Felician and Curry were a perfect 8-for-8 from charity stripe, locking up the win for Hazleton. 

Four Nittany Lions topped double-digits in the scoring column on Tuesday including a season high 20 points by Ashley James who went 4-for-5 from long range, 6-for-6 from the free throw line and tacked on eight rebounds in the win. Curry notched a double-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds with 5 assists to her credit along with a 16 point effort by teammate Azaria Johnson who was an efficient 7-for-11 from the field on Tuesday. Cassandra Rodriguez added 15 points including three triples to send Hazleton home with the win. 

Next up: The Lions have won three of their last four games in conference play and will look to continue that trend on Saturday when Hazleton hosts Penn State Scranton for a 1:00 p.m. contest.