Hazleton, Pa. - The Lions fell on Tuesday night when they hosted Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium. Hazleton surged ahead early, but it was all Wilkes-Barre in the final 30 minutes of action as the visitors pulled ahead late in the opening period and cruised to an 80-53 win.
After a slow start for both teams, Hazleton pulled ahead by seven points midway through the first half. Hazleton used a 9-4 run starting with just less than 13 minutes to play to surge past Wilkes-Barre, but after both teams traded makes from beyond the arc, Hazleton would muster just one free throw over the next five minutes. Wilkes-Barre took a 21-19 lead over that stretch until sophomore Daniel Gendimenico (Hazleton, Pa.) knotted the score with a wide open lay-up and keep Hazleton in the mix. But the final three minutes of action would change the momentum for the rest of the night. Wilkes-Barre reeled off five baskets in the final two minutes of play, taking advantage of three Hazleton turnovers over that stretch and taking that 11 point burst into the halftime break.
The Lions traded baskets with Wilkes-Barre to start off the second half and cut the deficit to single digits in the early phases of the period but Wilkes-Barre would go on to blow the game open shortly after with a flurry of three-point baskets. Wilkes-Barre knocked in four triples over the next three minutes of play that extended their cushion to 20 points that all but locked up the win. The visitors would remain hot for the rest of the game, shooting over fifty percent from the field in the second half and sinking 9-of-14 three point baskets to gu up by as many as 32 points on their way to the lopsided win.
On a tough night for the Nittany Lions, junior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) turned in the only double-figure scoring outing for Hazleton. Kwiatkowski made 10-of-17 shots on the night and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, totaling 27 points to lead all scorers in Tuesday's contest.
Next up: Hazleton will look to get back on track after three straight losses with the final game of the regular season. Hazleton will host Penn State Schuylkill at 8:00 p.m on Friday, February 21.