Fugah's free throw seals up conference victory

Phillis Fugah  defends on the perimeter.
Phillis Fugah defends on the perimeter.

Hazleton, Pa. - Freshman Phillis Fugah (Philadelphia, Pa.) sank a tie-breaking free throw with zero seconds remaining on Tuesday night, giving Hazleton a 73-72 win over Penn State Brandywine in the Dr. Thomas M. Cacesse Gymnasium. Fugah's game winner from the charity stripe capped a four point run by Hazleton in the final minute of play to surge past the visitors as Hazleton earned their first Penn State University Athletic Conference win of the season and improving to 2-2 (1-0 PSUAC) on the young season.

Hazleton took command in the first period and used a perfect 17-for-17 run at the free throw line in the first half to stay on top through the midway point. In total, the Lady Lions held on to the lead for a 21 minute stretch of play until Brandywine made a run in the waning minutes of the third period which set up a thrilling finish in the final stanza. 

The Lions took a four point cushion into the fourth quarter and stretched that advantage out to a nine point lead following a triple by sophomore Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) and lay in by senior Mekenzie Wolfe (Grove City, Pa.), matching their biggest lead of the game. Brandywine wouldn't go away and over the next five minutes of play proceeded to go on a 18-8 run capped by an old fashioned three point play by GinaMarie McNamee to go on top 66-65 with just over three minutes to play. Both squads would trade points over the next several possessions but Brandywine would find themselves in a great position with a 72-69 advantage with just over 40 seconds remaining in the game. Hazleton gained possession and following a quick timeout, Fugah would find freshman Scarlet Vargas (Bronx, Ny.) on the wing. Vargas found space, hurling up her 12th three point attempt of the game and finding nothing but the bottom of the net to tie the game at 72 each. 

Brandywine would hold for a late shot but missed layup was quickly corralled by freshman Katura McCorkle (Philadelphia, Pa.) who found Fugah streaking down the court for a last second attempt. Fugah went up for a contested runner just outside the paint and was hacked in the act, just barely getting the attempt off with no time remaining. Fugah went to the line for two shots and with the pressure on, missed the first end but converted the second attempt to lock up the win 73-72 in favor of Hazleton.

Hazleton lost the turnover battle 27-15 in this one but balanced out the miscue disparity with a fine effort on the boards and a 43.1 percent effort shooting from the field. Vargas' triple in the final minute was perhaps her biggest of the night but the freshman kept Hazleton out in front for much of the evening, tallying a team high 25 points while adding eight rebounds. Fugah added 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists with teammate McCorkle pitching in 12 points and nine boards. Brandywine saw two players reach double figures including Amanda Floyd with a game high 27 points and point guard Nikki Velez with 12 points and five steals.  

Next up: Hazleton heads back out on the road for a western Pennsylvania swing this weekend before heading into the Thanksgiving break. The Lions will square off with Penn State DuBois on Friday night at 5:00 p.m. followed by a 1:00 p.m. matchup at Greater Allegheny on Saturday.