By Penn State Altoona Athletics
Sixth-seeded Penn State Altoona women’s basketball was eliminated from the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament on Tuesday evening, when the Lady Lions were handed a 79-69 loss by third seed D’Youville College in the College Center Gym.
Penn State Altoona (14-12) trailed early, then got back into the game during the second quarter. But D’Youville (18-8) widened its lead in the third quarter, en route to defeating the Lady Lions by a 10-point margin.
“Not the way we had hoped it would turn out. I thought we were going to make the turn when we got to within two [during the second quarter], but D’Youville always had an answer,” said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. “I thought everyone gave great effort and provided valuable minutes.”
Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) secured her team-high 12th double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) also scored 13 points for the Lady Lions and picked up three rebounds.
Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) added 12 points and three rebounds, and Chloe Inman (Annville, PA/Annville-Cleona) game off the bench to provide a career-high 11 points while securing three boards.
“Chloe played an exceptional game,” Wilt stated. “She provided scoring, rebounding, and defense when we needed it. Chlo has worked hard, and it’s been great to watch her see it pay off. She was certainly a spark for us.”
Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) finished with seven points and six rebounds, and she also led the team with five assists and two blocks. Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, and tallied three helpers, and Sarah Huston (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) had five points, four assists, and a team-high four steals off the bench.
D’Youville was led by Sara Pfeiffer’s game-high 27 points. The Lady Spartans also got 13 points from Haley Kirisits, as well as 12 points and 10 rebounds from Sarah Wittek.
“D’Youville is a talented group. They have many scoring threats and are tough on the boards,” said Wilt. “One of the great things about basketball is the relationships you form with teammates, opponents, and coaches. Friendships have been formed with their players, which has been special to witness. They’re a top-notch team, and we wish them the best of luck moving forward in the tournament.”
D’Youville got out to a 23-10 lead by the 2:34 mark of the first quarter, but back-to-back baskets from Strittmatter and a layup and foul shots from Huston brought Penn State Altoona’s deficit down to six points, 23-17, by the end of the period.
Penn State Altoona kept the momentum going into the second quarter. Two three-pointers by Snyder brought the Lady Lions to within four, 27-23, and Cannistraci’s layup at 4:34 kept the difference at four points, 29-25. Burk’s jump shot at 3:57 brought Penn State Altoona to within three points, 30-27, and Strittmatter’s bucket at 2:15 made it a two-point game, 37-35. Inman converted on a three-point play just over a minute later to keep the Lady Lions within two, 40-38.
D’Youville tacked three more points on to its total before the end of the half, but Penn State Altoona had still narrowed its deficit to 43-38.
The home team’s performance in the third quarter fended off Penn State Altoona, however, as the Lady Spartans outscored the Lady Lions 23-14 during the period. D’Youville opened the period on a 6-0 run, then grew its lead to 14 points by the end of the quarter.
The Lady Spartans went on to lead by as many as 18 points during the fourth quarter, grabbing the win to advance to the AMCC semifinals.
Despite being eliminated from the AMCC Tournament, Penn State Altoona women’s basketball will now hope that its season is not yet finished, as the team will await word on a possible berth into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Championship Tournament next week.
“To our seniors: thank you! You’ve been with us as we went through many highs and lows. You’re the reason our program has found the many successes we have over the years,” said Wilt. “I’m sorry things didn’t pan out the way we had hoped, but I’m hopeful we will get an ECAC bid and can continue your athletic careers a little bit longer.”