No. 2 Hazleton takes 1st conference loss in 66-65 decision to no. 7 Penn State Beaver

No. 2 Hazleton takes 1st conference loss in 66-65 decision to no. 7 Penn State Beaver

HAZLETON, Pa. - Four Penn State Hazleton starters finished with 10 or more points, but it wasn't enough as the Lady Lions dropped their first conference game of the season, 66-65, to Penn State Beaver on Saturday afternoon in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.

Senior Alexis Daly (Wyalusing, Pa.) scored 12 points for Hazleton, but her big moment came on the boards. Daly grabbed 17 rebounds on the day, but her fifth one was special. With 7:50 remaining in the second quarter Daly pulled down a defensive rebound, the 1,000th of her career. Coupled with more than 1,700 points it makes Daly the second player in Penn State Hazleton history to reach the milestone in both points and rebounds.

Hazleton struggled from the field, shooting a season-low 29 percent, including a dismal 1-for-13 from behind the arc. Beaver got to the free throw line only 15 times, but took advantage of their chances, making 11. Hazleton didn't have a great night at the charity stripe either, going 18-for-27.

1st Half

Beaver took the early shots in the first quarter, landing most of them as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Hazleton slowly chipped away before grabbing their first lead, 15-13, with 2:27 left in the quarter on two free throws from freshman McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, NY). Beaver bounced back quickly and finished the quarter on an 8-0 run to make it 21-15 after 10 minutes of action.

The Lions pushed their advantage to 10 midway through the second quarter before Prutsman led a charge for Hazleton. The point guard hit a three-pointer and added three more points as Hazleton rallied to tie the score at 34 apiece. A 5-2 run by Beaver to end the second gave them a narrow 39-36 advantage heading into halftime.

2nd Half

Each time Beaver pulled away, Hazleton battled back. The Lions extended their lead to seven early in the third, but a jumper from freshman Kassie Ferdinand (Mountain Top, Pa.) and free throws from both Daly and Prutsman cut the Hazleton deficit to one, 45-44. Freshman Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, NY) then hit a lay-up to give Hazleton their first lead since the first quarter, but Beaver outscored the Lady Lions 10-5 over the final four minutes of the third to take a 55-51 lead into the final stanza.

Sophomore Alison Vincent's (Ashville, Pa.) lay-up followed by two straight buckets from junior Stephanie Guevara (North Brunswick, Pa.) gave Hazleton another lead, 57-55. Beaver answered again, using a 6-0 run of their own to take a four point lead with 5:43 to play. Brittany Jackson hit a free throw to make it 66-61 with four minutes remaining, but Beaver would go scoreless down the stretch. 

Hazleton couldn't get over the hump though, as a Guevara free throw and an old-fashioned three point play from Prutsman made it 66-65 with 30 seconds to play. Beaver turned the ball over on their final possession, but Hazleton's last attempt wouldn't fall, ending the Lady Lions' perfect conference season.

Top Performers

Daly wrapped up her 12th double-double of the season with the 12 point, 17 rebound performance. The 17 boards was a season-high.

Prutsman had a team-high 13 points and four steals, while Guevara added 10 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Haley Nalls (York, Pa.) rounded out Hazleton's double figure scorers with 11 points.

Khalia Adams led all scorers with 18 points, while Asia Borders added 14 points for Beaver. Jackson finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.

Next Up: The Lady Lions had already clinched a first round bye in the PSUAC playoffs and fall to the no. 2 seed with the loss. Hazleton will get a week off before hosting the winner of Penn State Lehigh Valley/Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the semifinals at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20th in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gym.