Hazleton, Pa. - Sophomore McKenzie Prutsman (Jasper, Ny.) struck for 24 points in the first three quarters of play as the Lady Lions built a commanding 30 point lead and cruised to victory over Penn State Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night. Wilkes-Barre responded with a fine fourth quarter effort, more than doubling their total from the previous three quarters combined with a 62.5 shooting performance in the final period, but could not overcome the huge deficit imposed on them by the Lady Lions. Despite being outscored 26-11 in the final frame, Hazleton would weather the fourth quarter storm to earn their eighth straight victory by the final score of 65-50.
Wilkes-Barre was led by Samantha Corsello who went for 16 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort. Amari Boyd also added a double-double after a nine point fourth quarter effort helped Boyd finish the night with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five steals.
Prutsman was held scoreless in the fourth quarter with limited minutes, finishing the night with a game high 24 points. The sophomore was effective and efficient once more in Hazleton's transition effort, shooting 10 for 13 on the evening, adding four assists in the win.
Sophomore Ijonana Laster (Niagara Falls, Ny.) added an 18 point effort for the Lady Lions, her fifth straight performance with double figures in the scoring column.
Rounding out the top performers for Hazleton was senior Stephanie Guevara (New Brunswick, Nj.). Guevara connected for just nine points on the night, but was stellar on the glass, pulling in 15 rebounds while dishing out 5 assists in the win.
Hazleton connected on four transition buckets to as they quickly pulled ahead for a 10-2 lead to start the period. After a free throw by Wilkes-Barre, Laster hit from downtwon and immediately followed up with a breakaway lay-up to put the Lions on top 15-3. Wilkes-Barre was able to connect on four field goals in the period, but were continually out-paced by Hazleton who went on to finish the quarter with a 21-10 to lead.
The Lady Lions fell off slightly in the second quarter, but continued to convert Wilkes-Barre turnover into points on the offensive end. Hazleton would hold the visitors to just two field goals and six total points in the second frame as they pulled ahead to a 20 point advantage at the half, a 36-16 score in their favor.
Both teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the third with Wilkes-Barre briefly cutting the Hazleton lead to 16 midway through the period. That offense would dry up for the visitors against the Hazleton defense as the Lady Lions would hold Wilkes-Barre scoreless for the final 5:36 of the third quarter. Over that stretch Hazleton piled on 14 points, including six from Prutsman and four from Guevara to build their largest lead of the game, a 54-24 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
With nothing to lose the Wilkes-Barre offense relaxed in the final frame and immediately caught fire. A flurry of baskets from Corsello Boyd and Leeandra Ricks sparked a 12-3 run by the visitors in the first three and a half minutes of action. By the midway point Wilkes-Barre had erased nearly half of their deficit, but that hole would prove too deep as Hazleton got back into action in the final three minutes of play. A buzzer beating triple from Amari Boyd cut the score to its final total, a 65-50 win for Hazleton.
The Lady Lions look to make it nine in a row when they take on Penn State University Athletic Conference playoff contender, Penn State DuBois. Hazleton will take the court against the western PSUAC foe on Friday, January 27 at 6:00 p.m.