Dallas, Pa. - Saturday afternoon's matchup with Clarks Summit University featured seven ties and 10 lead changes and ultimately came down to the wire in the consolation round of the 25th annual McCarthy Tire Laurel Line tournament on the campus of Misericordia University. The Nittany Lions bested the Defenders in nearly all statistical categories but a potent outside attack kept Clarks Summit in contention. Both teams were neck and neck at 69 points each as the clock neared the final horn, but a costly Nittany Lion foul with just one second remaining in regulation sent the Defenders to the stripe. Noah Lindsey stepped to the line and missed the first end, but rattled home the second free throw to give the Defenders the 70-69 victory.
Kyron Jones paced the Defenders with a team high 14 points, tallying six rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Evan Dougoud added 11 points and six rebounds while Noah Lindsey added 10 points and six boards to round out Defenders in double digits. Collectively the Defenders combined for 9-16 shooting from beyond the arc, seven of which came in the first half of play.
Junior Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) continued his dominance in the paint, securing a season high 18 rebounds, adding 18 points on 7-13 shooting with five blocked shots. Singletary's two-day performance earned the junior a selection to the Laurel Line's all-tournament team. Junior Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, Ny.) also had season highs for the Nittany Lions, knocking down four triples and totaling 25 points.
The Defenders came out on fire from long range in the first half, cashing in six triples in the first seven minutes and change to open up what would be their largest lead of the game at 20-13. Senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) provided the Lions with a spark off the bench, combining with Kelly for four good buckets from beyond the arc to get the Lions back in the mix and with seven minutes remaining, the Nittany Lions claimed their first lead of the game at 27-26. Both teams would go back and forth until the half's end, but an old fashioned three point play by Donald Miller gave Clarks Summit a one point, 39-38 advantage at the break.
Kyle Kelly remained hot for the Nittany Lions as the second half began, combining with Singletary's effort in the post to carry Hazleton on an 18-7 burst. The run, capped by Kelly's fourth trifecta of the game, came with 13:02 to play and gave Hazleton their largest margin of the afternoon at 54-46 over Clarks Summit. But the Defenders never caved, chipping away at Hazleton's lead over the next several minutes to get back to a one possession affair. Clarks Summit completed the comeback to claim their first lead since the opening minute of the final period on an Evan Dougoud three pointer with 4:19 to play as the momentum swung back to the Defenders.
Trailing by four points with under one minute to play, Hazleton rallied late as they chased Clarks Summit 69-65. A Dwayne Richardson steal sprung Singletary for a layup on the fast break and moments later, Kyle Kelly tied the game with a close range bucket with just 10 seconds to play. Needing one more stop to force overtime, Hazleton forced a missed shot from the Defenders but a crucial rebound was gobbled up by Clarks Summit's Noah Lindsey. Lindsey tried for the quick put-back and with one tick remaining, was fouled in the act of shooting, knocking in the second of two free throws to seal Hazleton's fate with a 70-69 win for the Defenders.
The Lions end their early season non-conference schedule on a five game skid, but the tough competition and close battles will no doubt prove valuable as they head into Penn State University Athletic Conference play. Hazleton will next take the court on Tuesday, November 29 when they head to Penn State Lehigh Valley for the first conference matchup of the regular season.