WINCHESTER, Va. – Penn State Altoona women's basketball suffered its first loss of the young 2018-19 season on Saturday afternoon, losing 53-47 to non-conference opponent Shenandoah University in the Wilkins Center.
Despite playing solid defense and winning the turnover battle 21-17, the Lady Lions (1-1) struggled to click offensively, shooting just 29.8% as a team.
"Today was a big challenge for us as a team. After last night's win against Geneva, we had to be refueled and ready to go," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "We struggled at times to put the ball in the hoop."
Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) and Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) tied for the team-high in points with 11 each, with both players sinking three treys. Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) added 10 points while grabbing seven rebounds, and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) secured a team-best eight boards while scoring seven points.
"Paige came out of the locker with a hot hand. She went 3-for-4 from behind the arc, and she really helped to get things rolling offensively for us. Syd was another spark for us, as she hit some big shots at key moments," said Wilt. "Defensively, we some saw some improvements from last night. Unfortunately, we came up short. We will use today's loss as a learning opportunity to get better so that we are ready for conference play."
Shenandoah (3-0) got a game-high 14 points and 14 rebounds from Jordan Sondrol, as well as 12 points from Ashley Stone.
Penn State Altoona grabbed a lead in the first quarter following free throws by Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) and Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) that put the Lady Lions up 9-6 by 3:56. But Shenandoah eventually went ahead with five seconds left in the period on Ragan Johnson's layup.
The Lady Lions won the second quarter 13-12 and went into halftime tied 22-22. A Burk three-pointer at 5:58 made it a one-point game, 14-13, and she connected from beyond the arc again at 4:46 to tie the score 16-16. Later, layups from Strittmatter and Cannistraci tied things up before the intermission.
In the third quarter, three-pointers from Snyder helped to keep Penn State Altoona within one point, 31-30, of Shenandoah midway through the period. A layup from Chloe Inman (Annville, PA/Annville-Cleona) and free throw by Stevens helped the Lady Lions to a 33-31 lead by 2:17. But the Hornets finished the period up 41-36, helped by a three-pointer by Stone at the end of the quarter.
Cannistraci's jumper at 6:07 in the fourth quarter kept Penn State Altoona within three points of Shenandoah's lead, 48-45, and her layup at 2:58 kept the difference at three, 50-47. But the Lady Lions were shut out the rest of the way, and Shenandoah went on to win by six.
Now, Penn State Altoona women's basketball will break for Thanksgiving and return to action on Monday, November 26 with a home game against Division II Lock Haven University at 6:00 p.m.