Penn State Altoona women’s basketball had its five-game winning streak halted on Wednesday afternoon, as the Lady Lions suffered an 83-74 loss to Hilbert College in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Game of the Week at the Hafner Recreation Center.
Penn State Altoona (7-4, 5-2 AMCC) held a lead in the fourth quarter, but Hilbert (9-3, 6-1 AMCC) used a 28-point performance in the game’s final period to overtake the Lady Lions’ lead and win by nine.
“Small, yet very vital pieces to the game got us. We gave up 19 offensive boards, which Hilbert converted into 17 points. You just can’t do that against a talented and experienced team,” said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. “We also committed 17 turnovers, most of which were unnecessary. We need to do better.”
Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led all scorers with a season-high 26 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Christine shot 9-for-14 from the field, and she finished a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. For her collegiate career, Christine currently sits in second place on the Lady Lions’ all-time scoring list with 1,127 points, just 64 behind all-time leading scorer Courtney Carroll (2007-11).
Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) contributed 18 points and seven rebounds, and she posted team-highs with five assists and three steals. Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) finished with 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks, and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) added 10 points and three rebounds. Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) grabbed a team-high eight rebounds while also recording five points, two assists, and two blocks.
Hilbert got 23 points from Taylor Corts, as well as 19 points apiece from Emily Gawlak and Macy Kisner.
Hilbert built a 23-18 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Three-pointers from Corts and Demi Battin started the scoring, and another three by Corts gave the Lady Hawks a 9-4 lead at 7:02. Penn State Altoona got to within one point later, as Cannistraci’s three-point play and Strittmatter’s jumper narrowed Hilbert’s lead to 17-16 with 2:17 left in the period. But three-pointers from Gawlak and Ashley Schroeder helped the home team to a five-point lead by the conclusion of the quarter.
Penn State Altoona bounced back with a strong second quarter, taking the lead midway through the period and holding a three-point advantage by the intermission. After Gawlak’s basket and Corts’ layup and free throw gave Hilbert a 28-18 lead early in the period, Penn State Altoona used a total of five free throws from Cannistraci, Snyder, and Sarah Huston (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) to get back to within five points, 28-23, by the 6:30 mark. Cannistraci and Snyder each hit three-pointers to put the Lady Lions ahead 29-28 by 4:06, and a layup and two foul shots from Christine made it 33-30 by 2:27. A foul shot and jumper from Strittmatter closed the Lady Lions’ scoring for the half, and Penn State Altoona headed into the locker room up 36-33.
Penn State Altoona maintained its lead in the third quarter, posting a narrow 23-22 scoring advantage during the period. Two jump shots by Christine and a free throw from Cannistraci increased the Lady Lions’ lead to 41-37 early in the quarter, and a pair of baskets from Snyder made it 47-42 at 5:14. Hilbert rallied for an 8-0 run, including back-to-back layups by Kisner that gave the home team a 50-47 lead at 3:37. But the Lady Lions reclaimed the lead late in the period, when Cannistraci’s basket at 1:08 put her team up 56-54. Burk’s three-pointer with 36 seconds left in the quarter increased Penn State Altoona’s lead to four, 59-55.
The Lady Lions nursed a modest lead into the middle of the fourth quarter, but Hilbert outscored Penn State Altoona 19-7 over the game’s final 5:06 to come from behind and take control.
Cannistraci made two free throws at 9:45 to boost her team’s lead to 61-55, and after Hilbert briefly took a two-point lead on Emma Fredo’s layup and foul shot, Strittmatter hit a three-pointer at 6:29 to give Penn State Altoona a 64-63 advantage. A layup by Huston and free throw from Snyder put the Lady Lions’ lead at 67-64 by the 5:26 mark.
But Hilbert got a three-pointer from Corts at 4:10 to jump in front, 70-67. The Lady Hawks increased their lead to 76-69 by 2:32 following baskets on consecutive possessions by Kisner and Corts, and another Kisner bucket at 1:31 made it 79-69. Kisner and Gawlak combined for four free throws in the final 1:20 of the game, and Hilbert held on for the win.
Penn State Altoona was not helped by its rebounding performance, as it was outrebounded 44-38 by Hilbert – including allowing 19 offensive rebounds by the Lady Hawks. The Lady Lions also finished minus-5 in the turnover battle, committing 17 turnovers compared to Hilbert’s 12.
“I hope this game ignites a fire within us to take care of the fine details,” said Wilt. “We’re a skilled team, but we were not efficient today, especially when we needed to be in the fourth.”
Penn State Altoona women’s basketball will look to get back on track this Saturday, January 11, when the Lady Lions travel to Bradford, Pa. to face AMCC opponent Pitt-Bradford at 4:00 p.m.