Nittany Lions click for 92-88 win over Worthington Scranton

Royce Brathwaite pushes the ball up court.
Royce Brathwaite pushes the ball up court.

Dunmore, Pa. - Juniors Kyle Kelly (Manhattan, Ny.) and Jordan Singletary (Houston, Tx.) served up monster performances as the Nittany Lions held off Penn State University Athletic Conference opponent Worthington Scranton for a 92-88 win on Tuesday night. Both teams were evenly matched with neither squad earning much of an advantage statistically. Scranton and Hazleton combined for 62 three-point attempts, but the Lions earned the slight edge from long range, hitting on 13 of 33 shots, compared to an 11 for 29 effort from the home squad. Hazleton nursed a single digit lead the entire second half and faced a late barrage of long-range makes from Worthington Scranton, but Singletary and freshman Robbie Hopkins (Mt. Top, Pa.) answered the call with clutch buckets down the stretch to deliver Hazleton the much needed victory.

Top Performers

Scranton was led by Broderick Dial who came off the home team bench to net 24 points on the evening. Dial went seven for 13 from the field and hit three buckets from long distance to lead the offense.

Roman Crisafulli was perfect from the charity stripe and five for 10 from the floor to tally 16 points while Bryan Gallagher connected on four long range efforts to notch 12 points.

Rounding out the top scorers for Worthinton Scranton were Levert Comas with 11 points and nine rebounds and teammate Jeff Griffin with 10 points and seven boards.

Kelly led all scorers in the game with a season high 32 points on his former home court. Kelly made good on five three pointers and went seven for eight from the charity stripe to lead the way for Hazleton.

Singletary notched 21 rebounds on the evening, the third time this season the Hazleton big man has eclipsed 20 or more on the glass. The forward added eight of nine from the line to finish the game with 18 points and yet another double-double.

Senior Dwayne Richardson (Richmond, Va.) and Robbie Hopkins both produced for the Nittany Lions, with each hitting three baskets from long range to net 11 points apiece in the Hazleton victory.

1st Half

The Nittany Lions got off to a quick start with a pair of buckets from sophomore Nick Nowak (Philadelphia, Pa.) and a three from junior Royce Brathwaite (Pocono Summit, Pa.). The Hazleton offense continued to roll and by the sixth minute of action, built an 18-10 lead on a Richardson triple. Scranton would remain stuck on 10 points as the Nittany Lions built their largest lead of the night, a 12-point spread capped by a Singletary jumper in the paint with 13 minutes remaining in the half.

The home team would bounce back with six of their final seven made field goals coming by way of the three pointer, closing the gap to just three points with 1:14 to play in the half. Sophomore Jacob Solano (Bethlehem, Pa.) would answer at the one minute mark with a triple, followed by a Kelly jumper, his 19th point of the half to help give the Lions a 46-40 cushion at the midway point.

2nd Half

Hazleton's lead would hover above six points for the first ten minutes of the second half with both squads trading blows from beyond the arc and at the free throw line. Things heated up at the 12 minute mark when Scranton's Levert Comas converted three of three attempts from the line, shrinking Hazleton's advantage to 66-64. With seven minutes to play, Scranton would complete the comeback, sinking a pair at the line to tie the game at 70, but the Nittany Lions responded a 9-0 run. Hazleton got buckets from Solano, Nowak, and Brathwaite, with Richardson capping the surge with a three to put the Lions on top 79-70. 

Just as in the first half, Scranton got hot from long distance down the stretch. Dial hit a pair of three's to cut the lead back to 79-76 and following a Richardson make on the Hazleton end, Dial hit again to cut the Scranton deficit to two points. A key jumper from Singletary with the clock winding down gave Hazleton the 84-80 edge, but once more Scranton applied the pressure from long range. Levert Comas' triple brought the score to 84-83 Hazleton and with just two minutes remaining in regulation, Dial knotted the score at 84 from the free throw line.

Under pressure, Hazleton searched for an open look on their end of the floor. Hopkins dribbled around the key searching for a passing lane, but with shot clock winding down, fired from the top of the key, sinking the long-range attempt to regain the lead for Hazleton. Singletary would add a basket for the Lions, but Scranton would make good a jumper and pair of free throws by Crusafulli.

Trailing 90-88 with under one minute to play, Scranton had a chance to take the lead, but Crisafulli could not connect from downtown. Hopkins was sent to the line, sinking a pair to put the game out of reach, sending the Lions home with the win.

Next up

The Hazleton victory leaves the Lions in a tie for sixth place in the PSUAC. Hazleton will look to keep the ball rolling and get back over .500 when they take on Penn State Brandywine on Friday, February 3 at 8:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.