by Joel Nelson
ALTOONA, Pa. – In its fifth home game of the season, the Penn State Altoona women's basketball team fell 82-73 to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Mount Aloysius College on Wednesday in the Adler Arena.
Penn State Altoona (5-6, 2-5 AMCC) had a strong showing from the three-point line, going 9-for-18, with sophomore guards Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) and Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) each hitting three shots from beyond the arc.
The Lady Lions' leading scorer was Christine, who scored 26 points by hitting seven field goals and going a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw stripe. She got her first double-double effort of the season, recording 13 rebounds to complement the 26 points, as well as recording four assists and a steal in a team-high 38 minutes. Burk recorded her first collegiate double-double with 11 points and 10 boards, and she added four assists and a block in 30 minutes of action.
Freshman guard/forward Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) recorded 14 points, hitting six field goals. She also collected three rebounds to go with two assists and a team-high two steals in a season-high 33 minutes. Cannistraci has now recorded 10 or more points in four of the past five contests.
Senior forward Megan Wheeler (Lilly, PA/Penn Cambria) recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, and one block, while fellow senior forward Shannon Zimmerman (Pine Grove, PA/Pine Grove) hit three of four free throw attempts to put her in eighth place all-time on the women's basketball program's made free throws category with 180 in her career.
Dominant offensive efforts from Jessa Wright and Alexia Servello kept Mount Aloysius a perfect 7-0 in AMCC play and 9-3 overall. Wright recorded a game-high 28 points and Servello brought home 18, as the two shot a combined 19-for-39 from the field. Wright recorded a double-double, adding 14 rebounds to her 28 points. Servello recorded a team-high five assists and a game-high six steals, as every member of the Lady Mounties recorded at least one steal.
Turnovers were a problem for Penn State Altoona throughout the night, as the Lady Lions turned it over 28 times compared to just seven committed by Mount Aloysius.
Christine opened the scoring with a layup five seconds into the game, and a Burk three-pointer at the 9:31 mark gave Penn State Altoona a strong 5-0 start to the contest. Wright's steal led to a field goal by Servello with 7:37 to go in the first quarter to put the Lady Mounties on the board.
Christine converted a three-point play with 2:53 left in the first quarter, putting the Lady Lions up by 15 points, 22-7, for their largest lead of the night. The Lady Lions led 26-16 at the conclusion of the opening quarter.
Mount Aloysius outscored Penn State Altoona 20-13 in the second quarter, finishing on a 6-0 run with field goals from Katelyn Parisi, Wright, and Servello. The Lady Lions' lead was trimmed to 39-36 by the half.
Penn State Altoona's last lead of the game came with 5:29 to go in the third quarter on a Cannistraci field goal assisted by Burk. It was "go" time from then on for the Lady Mounties.
Mount Aloysius opened the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run and achieved its largest lead of the night with 6:54 to go after an Abby Kulick layup put her team up by 16, 75-59. The Lady Lions finished the game on a 7-0 run, but they did not have enough time to fully catch up, losing by nine.
The Lady Mounties outscored Penn State Altoona 38-24 in the paint, 25-8 off of turnovers, 23-4 on second-chance opportunities, 10-2 on the fastbreak, and 20-7 off the bench. Mount Aloysius also led Altoona 22-6 in offensive rebounds and 21-4 in steals.
Next up, the Lady Lions will take on another AMCC rival, Penn State Behrend, in Erie, Pa. on Saturday, January 13 before a three-game homestand with Pitt-Greensburg, Hilbert College and non-conference Hood College.
Penn State Altoona's next meeting with Mount Aloysius will be Wednesday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. at the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center in Cresson, Pa.