State College, PA -- Lady Lions claim 4th consecutive PSUAC Championship with 61-59 win over Penn State Hazleton.
To open the game, the Lady Lions jumped out to an early 3-point lead off of an Asia Borders (Ellwood City, PA/Lincoln) jumper followed by a foul shot by Khalia Adams (Washington, DC/Phelps). At the 6:16 mark in the 1st, Hazleton took their first lead of the game, 5-4. Beaver was quick to answer and tie the game on a Miranda Davis (Port Saint Lucie, FL/Saint Lucie West Centennial) lay-up, but Hazleton responded immediately with a lay-up of their own. The back and forth play continued through the quarter and Hazleton took a 5 point lead into the beginning of the second quarter (15-10).
Beaver opened the second with a 4-0 run to bring the game within one (15-14) with 7:18 to play in the half. Both teams played a scrappy, defensive game as Hazleton refused to give up their lead through the quarter. With about two and a half minutes to play in the first half, Beaver tied the game at 20 on a Brittany Jackson (Turtle Creek, PA/Westinghouse) lay-up, but just as in the first quarter Hazleton rebuilt their lead and took a 25-22 lead into the locker room to end the half.
To open the second half, Hazleton came out hot, expanding their lead to 29-22. With just over eight minutes to play, Borders and Adams would combine for 5 points to bring Beaver within 2 (29-27). Just two minutes later, senior, Morgan Kurtz (Washington, PA/Trinity) tied the game at 31 with a lay-up. With 4:20 to play in the third, Hazleton regained the lead (34-33) and went on a run, expanding their lead to 12 points with 1:22 to play in the quarter. With things looking grim for Beaver, a pair of free throws from Jenna Petrucci (Shenango, PA/New Castle) sparked a very late push for Beaver as they narrowed their deficit to 7 (48-41) to close the third quarter.
As the final ten minutes of the game got underway, Kurtz looked to spark her offense with a 3-pointer to bring Beaver within four, 48-44. Despite starting hot, the Lady Lions found themselves in a hole as they just couldn't get shots to fall, finding themselves down by 9 with 5:21 to play. With desperation and a fire in their bellies to pull off the win, a Jackson and-one brought the game within 5 with 4:23 to play (54-49). After playing tough defense and forcing a turnover, Adams took advantage and sunk a huge 3-pointer with 3:43 on the clock to bring Beaver within two followed by a Jackson lay-up to bring the Lady Lions within one of the lead (55-54). Hazleton, refusing to give in, again expanded their lead to 5 with just under two minutes to play. In the final minute, Hazleton held on to their lead until Adams drove the floor making a jump shot and drawing the foul to tie the game at 59 and then give Beaver a one-point advantage (60-59) with :23 remaining. Again, Beaver forced a turnover by Hazleton with :10 to go forcing Hazleton to foul. Mason Depetro (Pittsburgh, PA/Cornell) made one of two shots, giving Beaver a 61-59 lead which would also be the final score of the game.
This win marks the fourth consecutive PSUAC Championship for the Women's Basketball program under head coach Tim Moore.
Leading the Lady Lions tonight was Jackson who came off the bench for 18 points and 9 rebounds followed by Adams with 16 points and 7 rebounds. With the win, Beaver also clinches a spot in the USCAA National Tournament. They will learn their seed and first round game time tomorrow morning when the USCAA airs a radio broadcast from Portsmouth, Virginia.