Hazleton comes up short in second half at Lehigh Valley

Paul Feisel backs into the paint.
Paul Feisel backs into the paint.

Bethlehem, Pa. - The Lions returned from break looking to make it two consecutive wins in Penn State University Athletic Conference competition on Tuesday night however the Lions were met with a potent Lehigh Valley offense who took home the victory over Hazleton by a score of 91-71. Hazleton found success with a slower tempo in the half court set, but were handily defeated by Lehigh Valley's size a transition game which allowed the home squad to pull away late in the contest for a decisive victory. 

Tuesday night's win for Lehigh Valley didn't come easy. Despite a wire to wire win for the home team, Hazleton battled back from a 15 points first half deficit to trail 37-36 at the midway point. The Lions held Lehigh Valley to just two points in the final seven minutes of the half, forcing nine turnovers during that stretch of the game. Senior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) scored six points during the Hazleton push and a triple from freshman Paul Feisel (Slocum, Pa.) capped the half to pull the Lions within one to close out the period. 

Feisel continued to have the hot hand as play resumed in the second half. The freshman along with teammate Nick Ruggeri (Mountain Top, Pa.) combined for four triples early the second half and helped the Lions keep pace with Lehigh Valley. With Lehigh Valley leading 61-60 with nine minutes remaining, this game looked as though it would go down to the wire, but Lehigh Valley was about to heat up. The Lions would be held to one and done opportunities on offense as Lehigh Valley continued to dominate the glass. The home team quickly pushed the ball up court during a four minute scoring drought for Hazleton leading to five transition baskets that ballooned their cushion to 17 points with less than five minutes to play. Hazleton would eventually recover but the damage had been done with Lehigh Valley going up by as many as 25 points late in the action. 

Hazleton out-shot Lehigh Valley from the free throw and from beyond the arc on Tuesday night but lost the war on the glass by a margin of 54-23 which led to 58 points in the paint for the home team Lehigh Valley via the fastbreak and second chance opportunities. Four Lehigh Valley players cracked double-figures in the win including a game high 34 points from Talek Williams. Kwiatkowski led the way for Hazleton totaling 18 points in the loss along with Feisel who went for 11 points and seven rebounds with Ruggeri adding 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. 

Next up: The Lions will look to bounce back on Friday when they take on Western Division opponent Penn State DuBois at 7:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.