Lions foiled by PSUAC Western foes

Colin Johnson shoots from the perimeter
Colin Johnson shoots from the perimeter

Hazleton, Pa. - Hazleton fell in both contests this weekend, extending their losing streak to four games with losses at Penn State New Kensington and Penn State Shenango. A cold start left Hazleton trailing early in Friday's matchup with New Kensington leading to a 70-57 defeat in the first game of the weekend and despite shooting a high percentage in Saturday's contest at Shenango, the Nittany Lions surrendered too many extra possessions to the home team, leading to a 92-69 loss in the final game of the road swing. 

Friday, December 2 - Penn State Hazleton 57, Penn State New Kensington 70 - Final

The best laid plans did not come to fruition for the Nittany Lions in Friday nights matchup with New Kensington. Hazleton started off the game 0-for-13 and didn't register their first field goal until eight minutes had elapsed in the first half. During that stretch, New Kensington ran up a 13-0 lead which would ultimately be the margin of victory for the home team. Hazleton got to within single digits several times after the slow start and nearly completed the comeback late in the first half. The Lions connected on three straight triples including five straight points from sophomore Jahdon Jerome (Cambria Heights, Ny.) to get the Lions within seven points of New Kensington with less than three minutes to play in the first period, but the home responded with six straight points of their own, closing the half on a 6-2 run to lead 34-23 at the break.

Hazleton would continue to battle in the second half but each time the Lions threatened, New Kensington came up with an answer offensively. Hazleton cashed in four triples late in the second half, coming to within five points of New Kensington following a three by sophomore Colin Johnson (Raleigh, Nc.) with just over three minutes to play in the game but Hazleton failed to get within a possession of tying or taking the lead. New Kensington finished off the game by scoring the final seven points, closing out the win at the free throw line by the score of 70-57. 

A valiant effort by the Lions after the poor start but it wasn't enough in the end. Hazleton was led by sophomore Donovan Cumberbatch (Springfield Gardens, Ny.) who totaled 17 points and nine rebounds, both of which were team highs. Johnson finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals while Jahdon Jerome tallied 11 points to round out Hazleton's top efforts in the loss. 

Saturday, December 3 - Penn State Hazleton 69, Penn State Shenango 92 - Final

It was a much better start for Hazleton in Saturday's contest with Hazleton keeping pace with Shenango but a four minute scoring drought midway through the half saw Shenango go on an 11-0 run to put Hazleton in the chase position yet again. The Lions battled back from a 19 point first half deficit to close the gap to seven points following a Colin Johnson triple with 2:40 remaining in the half and finished the period with a layup to leave Hazleton trailing by single digits at halftime. Unfortunately for the Lions, this one would get away from them in second half as Shenango's advantage on the glass started to pay dividends. Shenango tacked on 29 second chance points in the game including offensive rebounds in the second half alone. Shenango used that advantage to tack on 50 points in the second half, going up by as many as 30 points in the second half and cruising to the finish for the win. 

Hazleton shot nearly 45 percent in the field on Saturday but it wasn't enough with Shenango earning 29 extra possessions in the game. Jahdon Jerome led the Lions with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting on Saturday while Donovan Cumberbatch added 13 points and six rebounds with freshman Kyle Artis (Allentown, Pa.) totaled 10 points in the game. 

Next up: Hazleton is back in action on Tuesday, December 6 when the Lions welcome Lackawanna College to the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium for a 7:00 p.m. non-conference matchup.