Lions defense secures win over Scranton

Emily Titus passes the ball from the block.
Emily Titus passes the ball from the block.

Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions move to 2-1 on the season and captured their first Penn State University Athletic Conference win of the season following Tuesday night's home victory over Penn State Scranton. Both squads struggled from the field in the early season matchup, but a solid defensive effort and timely baskets from the Lions led to a 49-35 win for Hazleton. 

After Scranton scored the first bucket of the game, Hazleton held the visitors scoreless for the remainder of the first quarter. Scranton went 0-for-13 over nearly a nine minute period seeing Hazleton jump ahead by 11 points by the end of the period. Scranton responded early on in the second quarter although Hazleton would maintain a 10 point cushion or better for the majority of the contest despite never really getting the offense clicking. Hazleton shot a combined 8-for-33 in the second and third quarters before going 8-for-15 in the fourth quarter alone. Fortunately for Hazleton, their team defense was on point, forcing 15 Scranton turnovers over the middle periods to force a stalemate and maintain an 11 point leading heading into the fourth quarter. 

The Lions got quality offense in the final 10 minutes of play and successfully held off several offensive bursts from Scranton. Freshman Azaria Johnson pitched in eight points in the fourth, going 4-for-4 in the period and the Lions got six points off the bench to extend their lead to 14 with just three minutes to play and coasted to the final whistle. 

Johnson was one of two Nittany Lions in double figures on Tuesday night, finishing the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and five swipes in the win. Freshman Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) added 10 points while freshman Rocky Curry secured a game high 11 rebounds, eight of which resulted in second chance opportunities for Hazleton. Overall, despite shooting just 33 percent from the field, Hazleton countered by forcing 27 Scranton turnovers to convert Tuesday night's contest into the team's first conference win. 

Next up: Back to back PSUAC action comes our way this weekend as we head into the Thanksgiving break. Hazleton will host Penn State Beaver on Friday, November 19 at 6:00 p.m. before heading back out on the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. matchup with Penn State Fayette.