Mont Alto, Pa. - Back in action for the first time since December, the Hazleton Nittany Lions returned to the court to face Penn State Mont Alto on Friday night in the team's final bout with the PSUAC western division. Hazleton was sluggish early and never recovered against Mont Alto, falling on the road by the score of 77-49 and taking their record to 6-3 in the PSUAC.
Hazleton started the game 0-for-5 from the field giving Mont Alto a head start in Friday night's game. By the 10 minute mark in the first half, Mont Alto opened up a double figure lead and never relinquished control. Mont Alto dominated the rebounding category held Hazleton to just 3-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, resulting in a 21 point advantage at the midway point. Hazleton posted a much better defensive effort in the second half, forcing 10 Mont Alto turnovers in the second half, but failed to get within striking distance. After trimming Mont Alto's lead to 17 points in the final period, Mont Alto responded with a 15-2 run to build their largest lead of the game, a 28 point cushion with just under 14 minutes to play in the game. Hazleton chipped away but could never threaten the home team's lead, ultimately falling 77-49.
Four Mont Alto players cracked double figures in the win on Friday including Quintyn Flemister who led all scorers with a 18 points and home squad finished the game with a significant 51-23 advantage in rebounding which paved the way for the Mont Alto win. Hazleton finished the game shooting just 33.9 percent from the field, led by freshman Nick Ruggeri (Mountain Top, Pa.) who totaled 12 points while senior Andy Kwiatkowski (Gaithersburg, Md.) notched 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Despite the struggles, Hazleton seemed to improve as the game progressed, dusting off some of the rust from the winter hiatus and we'll look to build off their successes as they prepare to take on the PSUAC east in the coming weeks.
Next up: The Lions are slated to host Penn State Schuylkill on Monday, January 17 at 8:00 p.m. With winter weather in the forecast, stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend.