Hazleton, Pa. - Freshman Brian Miller (Barnesville, Pa.) shot 80 percent from the field, including five triples, scoring a season high 21 points as he and the Nittany Lions (6-17, 4-12 PSUAC) edged Penn State Beaver (9-15, 7-9 PSUAC) in a Penn State University Athletic Conference matchup and the final game of the 2015-16 season by a score of 81-69.
Miller, along with sophomores Royce Brathwaite (Pocono Summit, Pa.) and Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) combined to score 59 of Hazleton's 81 point afternoon as the team outshot Penn State Beaver, 50.8 percent to just 34.8 percent for the visitors. That statistic nearly became irrelevant as Beaver clawed back from a 21 point first half deficit, scoring 50 points in the final period to get within three of Hazleton by the 3:30 mark in the second half, but an 11-2 run by the Nittany Lions to close out play earned the Hazleton a much deserved victory on their home floor to cap their season.
The first half was all about the Hazleton big men, but not nessecarily their play In the paint. After a Lamont Wright lay-in gave Beaver a 9-8 lead early in the first half, Hazleton's forwards went to work. Matt Manbeck (Girardville, Pa.) entered the game and scored all seven of his points in a five minute stretch of play, including a pair of jumpers and a three point play the old fashioned way that helped spark a 20-5 run by the Nittany Lions midway through the period. Brian Miller entered the contest over that same stretch and immediately found his stroke from long distance. Miller and Manbeck's top notch scoring off the bench freed up Singletary to work his magic and Hazleton poured on the points to pull ahead by 21 at the break. Miller would finish the period a blistering four of four from long range, notching eight rebounds in the process while Singletary himself went two for two from beyond the arc to total 13 first half points. As a team, the Nittany Lions shot 9-17 from downtown and won the battle of the boards 22-17 in what seemed like could become a runaway victory for Hazleton.
Penn State Beaver would turn the tides on the Nittany Lions in the second half for the better part of 16 minutes of action as Lamont Wright, Christian Perkins and Eric Gallupe erased their first half shooting woes with stellar second half efforts. Slowly but surely, the Penn State Beaver attack chipped away at the Lion's lead. Four straight scores from the Beaver trio came by way of the three-point attempt and although the Nittany Lions never went cold from the field, the triples began to take it's toll just as Hazleton was able to do in the opening period. Wright willed his way to 16 second half points and with 5:36 remaining in regulation, Perkins added his third triple of the half to cut the Nittany Lion lead to just four points, then scored a layup to shrink the advantage to three points with 3:30 to play. But Royce Brathwaite refused to give in. The sophomore point gaurd drained a shot from long range, his fourth of the afternoon, then ran in transition, netting a lay-up and expanding the lead back to eight points with two minutes to play. Beaver was forced to send Hazleton to the charity stripe, a place they had rarely been all afternoon, but the Lions made the pressure look easy as Brathwaite connected on four straight free throws, coupled with a pair of makes by senior Richard Hobbs (Central Islip, Ny.) to thwart Beaver's comeback bid and send the fans home happy.
Lamont Wright led all scorers in the contest with 27 points on 10 of 21 shooting, adding seven rebounds and three assists. Eric Gallupe knocked in five, three point baskets to total 15 points while securing a team-high 10 rebounds. Christian Perkins rallied for 15 second half bench points to total 17 for the game.
Brian Miller's hot first half first half continued in the second stanza as the freshman led all Nittany Lions with 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting from the field. The freshman's scoring total and 5 of 6 shooting from long range were a season best as the forward provided the complimentary scoring the Lions have been searching for all season.
Jordan Singletary ends his 2015-16 campaign on a tear, adding his seventh consecutive double-double performance and 17th such effort this season. Singletary nearly pulled down a triple double in the contest totaling 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots to match a season high.
The reliable Royce Brathwaite notched his ninth effort of 20 or more points, netting 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting with four baskets coming from beyond the arc. Brathwaite concludes the season as the Lions top scorer in 2015-16, averaging 16.9 points per game.
The season ends on a high note for the Nittany Lions as Hazleton picks up their first PSUAC victory on their home court. Stayed tuned to @PSUHNAthletics on the Twitter feed for Nittany Lion updates and don't miss the season recap show featuring some of our top Nittany Lion performers of the 2015-16 season.