by Joel Nelson
HAMBURG, N.Y. – In the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Game of the Week, the Penn State Altoona women's basketball team lost a close battle to conference foe Hilbert College 72-65 on Saturday afternoon.
"Tough game today. The second quarter got the best of us. We gave up 24 points – that's way too many," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt.
Penn State Altoona (11-9, 9-5 AMCC) had an incredible contribution from sophomore Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone). She deposited a career-high 28 points, going 10-of-26 from the field, including 4-of-8 from downtown. Cannistraci also brought in seven rebounds, an assist and two steals.
Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored nine points, got three rebounds and handed out three assists. Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) scored seven points, got three rebounds, and dished out four assists. Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) brought home six points, five rebounds, and three assists, and she also excelled on defense with three blocks and three steals. Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) scored four points while getting six rebounds, an assist, and two steals. Off the bench, freshman Emily Lehman (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored 11 points, going 4-of-8 from the field while hitting all three of her free throw attempts. Lehman also collected a career-high six rebounds.
"Emily gave us great minutes today. I'm really proud of her and her efforts today," stated Wilt. "Lex also had a nice game today. She was able to hit some shots from the outside, which led to her scoring opportunities in the paint."
The Lady Lions rolled off to a 20-12 start in the first quarter, holding Hilbert to one field goal within the final 4:19 of the opening period. Hilbert got rolling in the second quarter with three unanswered baskets and held Penn State Altoona scoreless for the first 3:07 of the second quarter before Lehman hit a jumper. A Burk jumper with 5:57 left put Penn State Altoona in front 25-18, but Hilbert stormed back with an 18-5 run, and Penn State Altoona trailed 36-30 at halftime.
Some strong defense within the final 4:53 of the third quarter boosted Penn State Altoona, as the Lady Lions held Hilbert to one field goal within that time frame. The Lady Hawks would lead 49-47 going into the final quarter. Cannistraci scored the Lady Lions' first ten points of the final period, but Ashley Repine for Hilbert had eight in the quarter to help boost the Lady Hawks to the 72-65 victory.
Hilbert (16-4, 11-2 AMCC) has now won five straight games after their 88-75 loss at Altoona on January 12. Repine paced the Lady Hawks with 26 points on a 10-of-13 performance, and she finished off a double-double performance with 13 rebounds. Katelyn Proy also got a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and she blocked five shots. Emily Gawlak scored 14 points and got three steals while Taylor Corts scored 12 points.
The Lady Lions are back in action tomorrow, Sunday, February 3 when they take on AMCC foe Medaille College at 1:00 p.m. They will return home for Saturday, February 9 against AMCC opponent D'Youville College at 1:00 p.m. On Wednesday, the 13th the Lady Lions will play their final road game at AMCC opponent Pitt-Bradford at 6:00 p.m. Coach Wilt's team concludes their impressive regular season on Saturday, February 16 at 2:00 p.m. against AMCC foe La Roche College for senior day.