HAZLETON, Pa. - No. 2 Penn State Hazleton picked up their seventh straight win in impressive fashion with an 80-52 defeat of Penn State Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.
The Lady Lions (19-2, 12-0 PSUAC), who have already clinched a first round bye and home game in the semifinals of the Penn State University Athletic Conference Tournament, jumped out to an early lead on a snowy night in northeastern Pa. and never looked back in the wire-to-wire win. With the win, Hazleton cannot earn lower than the two-seed in the PSUAC Tournament, set to begin Feb. 17th.
Hazleton had their best shooting night of the season since their opening two games, finishing the night at 47.5 percent (29-for-61). The stellar shooting included a season-best performance from behind the arc, as four Lady Lions combined to shoot 5-for-7 from downtown. Meanwhile, Hazleton forced poor shots from Wilkes-Barre, holding them to 26 percent from the field.
The Lady Lions also collected a lot of missed shots, prohibiting second chance points from Wilkes-Barre (14-6, 7-5 PSUAC). Hazleton won the battle of the boards, 53-39, while scoring 28 points of their own in the paint.
Hazleton jumped out to a 13-2 lead, stretching it to 18-3 less than a minute later, before Wilkes-Barre finished the first quarter on a 8-3 run. Freshman Kassie Ferdinand (Mountain Top, Pa.) hit both of her three's in the last 3:11 of the quarter, her second one giving Hazleton a 21-5 advantage before Wilkes-Barre's stretch closed the gap to 21-11.
The second quarter saw a similar trend, as Hazleton used short bursts to pull away from Wilkes-Barre. Another 21-11 win in the quarter gave Hazleton a 42-22 lead at the half as junior Stephanie Guevara (North Brunswick, NJ) added two late lay-ups to finish the half.
Hazleton stretched their lead to as much as 26 in the third quarter as senior Alexis Daly (Wyalusing, Pa.) poured in six points in the first 4:20 of the half. Freshman Haley Nalls (York, Pa.), who finished the night shooting 7-for-12, hit back-to-back jumpers, including a three, that made it 56-30 with 2:33 remaining in the third. Hazleton would lead 61-34 heading into the final stanza.
Another quick start in the fourth quarter gave Hazleton a 33-point lead with 5:46 to play. Wilkes-Barre narrowed the gap, but not by much, as the Lady Lions cruised to the win.
Hazleton was once again led by Daly with 19 points and 13 boards. She was joined in double figures by Nalls, who finished with 18 points off the bench, as well as 11 points from Guevara.
Ferdinand had one of her best nights in a Lady Lions uniform, finishing with eight points and three assists, while fellow freshman McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, NY) tied a season-best with six assists.
Wilkes-Barre's Deanna Thomas and Majeedah Nealy finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Next Up: The Lady Lions finish their five-game homestand with a weekend doubleheader, hosting Penn State Greater Allegheny on Friday, Feb. 12th at 6:00 p.m. before welcoming Penn State Beaver on Saturday, Feb. 13th at 1:00 p.m. for a clash in what is likely to determine the number one seed in the PSUAC Tournament.