Late rally stalls in final minutes, Hazleton falls to Brandywine in 1st round of PSUAC post-season

Rocky Curry on a fast break.
Rocky Curry on a fast break.

Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions season came to a close on Saturday with the team falling to Penn State Brandywine in the first round of the PSUAC post-season. Hazleton trailed by as many 16 points in the second half and trimmed the Brandywine lead to five points with less than two minutes to play but Brandywine closed out the game going 5-for-6 at the free throw line, topping Hazleton by the final score of 72-62. 

Hazleton was hot in the early phases of the game. Freshman Azaria Johnson (Richmond, Ga.) and sophomore Emily Titus (Tamaqua, Pa.) combined for 14 first quarter points, helping the Lions to a 16-6 advantage over Brandywine through the first eight minutes of play but as quickly as Hazleton jumped ahead, Brandywine came from behind and surged past the Nittany Lions. Hazleton would register just one field goal from the 2:30 mark in the first quarter until the 4:00 minute mark in the second quarter. Over that same stretch of the game, Brandywine tallied 23 points and continued to pour on the offense through the end of the half. Hazleton rallied late in the second quarter to stop the bleeding, but entered the break trailing Brandywine 40-27. 

Following a stalemate in the third quarter, the Hazleton offense started to heat up in the final period. A pair of triples by Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.) combined with a resurgence of offense from Azaria Johnson finally started to put a dent in Brandywine's double-digit lead. Johnson took over midway through the quarter, scoring 12 points from the five minute mark on. Johnson's final field goal came with just over a minute remaining, making it a two posession game at 67-62 in favor of Brandywine. Hazleton had a chance to continue the run, but missed on their next two opportunities and were forced to foul to extend the game. Brandywine made good on 5-of-6 attempts from the free throw line in the final minute of play, extending their lead back to double-figures and sealing up the post-season win. 

Saturday's game was won and lost in the shooting column with Brandywine besting Hazleton shooting nearly 42 percent from the field. Hazleton shot just under 34 percent from the floor and hit on just 3-of-21 attempts from beyond the arc while Brandywine maxed out with seven triples in the victory. Three players cracked double-figures for the victorious visitors including a team-high 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists from Amanda Floyd. Amelia Brooks pitched in 13 points and eight rebounds with Anaiyah Allen adding 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Hazleton was led by Azaria Johnson who went for a season high 28 points and 15 rebounds. Rodriguez added 17 points with Titus going for 10 points and eight rebounds to round out the top efforts for the Lions. 

Next up: The Lions season ends with Hazleton finishing 13-10 overall and 11-8 in PSUAC play.