ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona women's basketball turned an all-around efficient performance on Saturday afternoon into a 78-64 win over non-conference opponent Shenandoah University in the Adler Arena.
The Lady Lions (4-4) shot 49.2% from the field while limiting themselves to 15 turnovers, tying for their second-lowest mark of the season. The team's defense held the opposition to a 34.2% field goal rate, including just 24.4% in the second half.
"I'm very pleased with the effort and play today. It was great to have Kaley Strittmatter back on the court," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Shoup. "Everyone contributed."
Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led Penn State Altoona and all scorers in the game with 22 points, and she also grabbed eight rebounds to go along with two assists and two steals. Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) added a season-high 16 points while leading the team with six assists and securing eight rebounds.
"It never hurts when you have four players in double figures," said Shoup. "I was so happy to see Paige knock down some outside shots. We were also able to get on the boards, which helped greatly. I'm so happy that the ladies are going into break with a win."
Shenandoah (4-5) was led in scoring by Ashley Stone, who totaled 18 points. Kirstyn Arcata and McKenzie Mathis each finished with an identical stat line of 14 points and seven assists.
Penn State Altoona got out to a 19-16 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Layups from Shannon Zimmerman (Pine Grove, PA/Pine Grove), Wheeler, and Christine helped get the Lady Lions out to a three-point lead, 9-6, by the 5:31 mark. Alexis Stitt (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) added two free throws to make it 11-6 at 4:58, and Wheeler's jumper 32 seconds later kept the difference at five points, 13-8. After Shenandoah grabbed a 16-15 lead on Arcata's basket with 55 seconds to go, Christine and Brianna Polites (Elizabethtown, PA/Elizabethtown) each scored layups within the final 26 seconds to put their team up by three.
The Lady Lions continued to hold a modest lead in the second quarter. Scores from Christine and Burk in the early going put the home team up by six, 26-20, and Burk's three-pointer at 3:43 gave the Lady Lions a 26-29 lead. Burk connected from beyond the arc again at 3:10, and Cannistraci followed with two foul shots at 2:11 go give her team a 10-point lead, 41-31. Cannistraci's layup at the 58-second mark kept the score difference at 10, 43-33.
The Hornets used two late jump shots from Stone and Mathis to cut into Penn State Altoona's lead, and the Lady Lions went into the half ahead by six, 43-37.
Penn State Altoona again got out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter before Shenandoah came back to keep things close. Two free throws by Polites and layups from Zimmerman and Christine put the Lady Lions up 51-41 by 7:02. Polites sank a jumper at 3:16 to give the home team an 11-point advantage, 57-46.
Shenandoah used a three-pointer from Stone and two foul shots by Mathis to bring its deficit back into single digits, cutting Penn State Altoona's lead back to seven, 60-53, by the end of the third.
But the Lady Lions used an 18-11 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to pull away for good. After Cannistraci's jumper opened the scoring in the period, Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) made two free throws at 8:57 to increase her team's lead to 64-53. Cannistraci hit a three-pointer at 7:41, and Christine made a layup one minute later to make it a 14-point game, 69-55.
Stone's jumper at 1:33 got Shenandoah back to within five points, 69-64. But Penn State Altoona closed out the game with a strong performance at the line, combining to go 5-for-6 in free throws over the final 46 seconds to help ice the win.
Penn State Altoona held a big advantage in bench points over Shenandoah, winning that aspect of the game 30-10.
After the conclusion of winter break, the Lady Lions return to the court for an Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference game in the Adler Arena on Wednesday, January 3 against Pitt-Bradford. That contest will tip off at 7:00 p.m.