Schuylkill Haven, Pa. - The Nittany Lions battled through adversity on Thursday night at Penn State Schuylkill however Hazleton could not overcome a tough night from the field, dropping the final game of the regular season by the score of 41-51.
Both squads struggled to score the ball in this one with Hazleton converting field goals just 27.4 percent of the time. Schuylkill managed to shoot just a few ticks higher at 30.8 percent but it was their advantage in the paint along with 19 points off Nittany Lion turnovers that made all the difference. By the game's end Schuylkill managed a 48-36 advantage in the rebounding column along with 22 points in the paint compared to just 10 points at the rim for the Nittany Lions gave Schuylkill the edge despite the poor shooting night for both teams.
Hazleton trailed by just four points after the first intermission but as the second period rolled along, Schuylkill opened up a double-digit lead. Schuylkill continued build on the cushion and led by as many as 16 points early in the third quarter. Hazleton battled back in the fourth quarter, going on an 8-0 run late in the action to shrink the deficit down to single digits, but their struggles from the perimeter proved detrimental to the comeback effort as the Lions finished the game 2-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Schuylkill was led by Tajae Stevenson who had a double-double with a game high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Alyssa Gerber struck for 11 points and six rebounds with teammate Desiree Ellison adding 10 points and five boards. For the Lions it was a tough night to find consistent offense with just one player totaling double-figures on Thursday. Sophomore Emily Titus (Tamaqua, Pa.) notched a team-high 10 points in the loss with freshman Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) adding 9 points, six rebounds and five steals while freshman Rocky Curry (Darby, Pa.) totaled eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Next up: Hazleton's final hopes for the three seed in the PSUAC Eastern Division were dashed with the loss on Thursday but the Nittany Lions remain locked in for a home playoff game on Saturday, February 19. Hazleton will square off with Penn State Brandywine at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday in a rubber match with both teams claiming wins over the other on their home courts.