Poor third quarter spells defeat for Hazleton at Schuylkill

Coach Onushco huddles with the team during a timeout.
Coach Onushco huddles with the team during a timeout.

Schuylkill Haven, Pa. - The Nittany Lions dropped off in the second half of their matchup at Penn State Schuylkill on Saturday, dropping to a 10-7 record in the PSUAC following the 60-50 road loss. Hazleton out-shot Schuylkill for the day and won the turnover battle, but a poor third quarter was the difference in the game as Schuylkill took command in the second half and held off a fourth quarter run by the Lions. 

The first half of Saturday's showdown was close from start to finish. On both sides it was a one possession game until the Nittany Lions went on a 7-0 run midway through the second quarter sparked by a triple from sophomore Cassandra Rodriguez (League City, Tx.). Schuylkill bounced back with five straight points of their own to retake a slim 22-21 advantage but senior Jeny Rivera (Las Piedras, PR) finished off the half with a mid-range jumper to give the Lions a one point cushion heading into the halftime break. 

Schuylkill responded out of the break, tallying the first eight points of the third quarter. Hazleton was held to without a field goal for nearly four minutes to start the half until sophomore Azaria Johnson (Richmond Hill, Ga.) knocked in back to back field goals to break the ice. Hazleton got to within one point of the home squad following a free throw from Johnson with five minutes remaining in the quarter but Schuylkill finished the period on a 12-2 run, holding the Nittany Lions to just nine points in the third frame. The third quarter setback proved to be too much for Hazleton to overcome. The Lions knocked in three triples in the quarter but each made shot was matched by the home squad as Schuylkill hung on to a double-digit lead for the majority of the period. 

Cassandra Rodriguez continued to stay hot from beyond the arc on Saturday, notching six triples for 18 points on the day. Azaria Johnson totaled 13 points along with assists and four steals while senior Natasha Feliciano (Cainovas, PR) totaled eight assists and three steals in the losing effort. 

Next up: Just two games remain in the regular season for the Nittany Lions. Hazleton will host Penn State Mont Alto on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium before heading out on the road for their final game on Thursday at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.