PSUAC Women's Basketball Championship
Penn State Hazleton vs. Penn State Beaver
Tuesday, February 23 at 6:45 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center
State College, Pa.
Following a thrilling second half comeback to advance past Penn State Lehigh Valley last Saturday, the Lady Lions find themselves in the finals for the second straight season, and once again, they will meet top seeded Penn State Beaver for the Penn State University Athletic Conference crown. Beaver edged Penn State Brandywine last Saturday to earn a chance at their fourth consecutive PSUAC title and were the Lady Lions only conference blemish in 2015-16.
Penn State Beaver took advantage of the Lady Lions poorest shooting percentage of the season to top Hazleton by one point on their home floor back on February 13. Beaver called the shots early, opening up a ten point lead midway through the first half before Hazleton clawed back to a three point deficit at the half. Each time Beaver would pull away, Hazleton battled back into the contest, earning a one point advantage midway through the third period, but Beaver always seemed to answer, outscoring Hazleton 10-5 to end the third quarter. The Lady Lions found themselves trailing by five points with four minutes to play and held Beaver scoreless down the stretch, but could only muster four points in the final minutes, coming up one point shy of the defending champs, losing their final conference game by a score of 66-65.
Penn State Beaver
Three time defending PSUAC Champions and last year United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division 2 champions Penn State Beaver is no stranger to the spotlight of big games. After a slow start in non-conference play and and early season loss to Penn State Lehigh Valley, Beaver turned up the heat on the PSUAC competition, earning 11 straight conference victories to end the season. With the number one seed earned, Beaver faced a stingy Brandywine team who gave the defending champions a scare through three quarters of action before pulling away in the fourth. Beaver outscored Brandywine 31-11 in the final period to earn their fourth straight bid to the PSUAC finals.
Players to watch
#22 Khalia Adams - Beaver's top scoring threat, the senior guard averaged 18.5 points per game in 2015-16, good for fourth best in the PSUAC. Adams was second best in the conference, averaging 2.6 triples per game and leads her team with 2.7 steals a night. In the previous matchup at Hazleton, Adams led the Beaver offense with 18 points and five assists, adding five rebounds to her credit.
#21 Morgan Kurtz - The senior guard is Penn State Beaver's biggest threat from long range, topping out the PSUAC rankings from long distance with a 39.6 shooting percentage. Kurtz averaged 16.5 points a night, earning more trips to the charity stripe than any other teammate, hitting 76.2 percent from the line. Kurtz was a non-factor in round one of Hazleton vs. Beaver, notching just four points in 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
#32 Asia Borders - Perhaps Beaver best all-purpose player, the junior forward averaged just 12.4 points in 2015-16, but shot nearly 50 percent from the field while averaging 6.5 rebounds per game. Borders scored 14 points and pulled in 7 rebounds in the win over Hazleton on February 13.
Penn State Hazleton
The Lady Lions spent over a month on top of the USCAA national rankings and currently sits as the second ranked team in the country. Hazleton ripped through opponents in the regular season with key road victories over Penn State Fayette, Brandywine and two wins over third seeded Lehigh Valley including the five point victory in the semi-finals. Hazleton is second best in the PSUAC in points allowed, permitting just 53.8 points per game while scoring 76.2 themselves. The Lady Lions ended the regular season as the top overall rebounding and distributing squad, recording 45.8 rebounds and 15.4 assists per contest. With their lone conference blemish coming against Penn State Beaver in the final regular season game, and a finals loss to Beaver in the 2014-15 tournament, the Lady Lions are well motivated to return the favor.
Players to watch
#23 Alexis Daly - After a tough day from the field in the semi-finals with just seven points scored, the senior forward is eager to bounce back and capture the one accolade that has eluded her over her career, a PSUAC championship. Daly's 16.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game helped earn her co-honors for PSUAC player of the year with one big game to play. Daly tallied a double-double in the one point loss to Beaver ten days ago, scoring 12 and raking in 17 rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot.
#3 McKenzie Prutsman - Prutsman's 12.3 points and 2.9 steals per game earned the freshman guard, newcomer of the year honors in the PSUAC this season and her eight point, seven rebound, five assist day in the semi-finals played a major role in the Lady Lions victory over Penn State Lehigh Valley. Prutsman led Hazleton with 13 points and four steals in the previous encounter with Beaver and will need another strong outing for the Lady Lions to earn the crown.
#22 Stephanie Guevara - The junior guard's monster semi-final performance is a big reason the Lady Lions are playing for a title on Tuesday. Guevara's season high 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists were just what the doctor ordered and her high octane play shines through when opposition defenses turn their focus to Daly in the paint. Guevara dropped 10 points and nine rebounds against Beaver previously this season and the Lady Lions will look to her leadership on the perimeter.
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