Women's Basketball Starts Season With Loss to Division II Lock Haven

Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore guard Finnley Christine led her team with 14 points in Wednesday night's game against Lock Haven University.
Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore guard Finnley Christine led her team with 14 points in Wednesday night's game against Lock Haven University.

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - Penn State Altoona women's basketball opened its 2017-18 season on the road on Wednesday evening, and the Lady Lions were dealt an 84-53 loss by Division II opponent Lock Haven University.

Penn State Altoona (0-1) came out of the gate ready to play, keeping things close and trailing by just six points at halftime.

"We came out strong and attacked in the first half. There were times that Lock Haven had us on our heels and backpedaling, but we found ways to hang tough and kept it to six by the end of the second quarter," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Shoup. "Unfortunately, we struggled in the second half and got away from our defensive principles."

Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led the Lady Lions with 14 points, three assists, and two steals, and she also grabbed five rebounds.

"Fin played a nice overall game," said Shoup. "She attacked the defense and created for her teammates and herself throughout the game."

Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) added eight points and four rebounds for Penn State Altoona. Alexis Stitt (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) finished with seven points and four rebounds, and Megan Wheeler (Lilly, PA/Penn Cambria) grabbed a team-high seven boards to go along with six points.

Lock Haven (1-2) was led in scoring by Ahnera Parker, who scored 15 points. Rileigh Devine and Maimuna Kenneh each contributed 12 points, and Kayla Henderson added 10 points.

Stitt opened the first quarter by connecting from three-point range for Penn State Altoona at the 9:49 mark. Later, Kaley Strittmatter's (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) hit a three-pointer at 3:17 to put the Lady Lions in front 10-8. After Henderson's layup gave Lock Haven a 14-11 lead with one minute left in the quarter, Brianna Polites' (Elizabethtown, PA/Elizabethtown) layup and foul shot with 48 seconds remaining tied the score 14-14. Christine's free throw with 19 seconds left gave the Lady Lions a brief one-point lead before Henderson made a jump shot with nine seconds to go.

Lock Haven used a three-pointer from Devine at 4:54 of the second quarter to take a six-point lead, 27-21. But Penn State Altoona pulled to within one point, 27-26, after another Stitt trey and a layup by Christine. Those baskets closed the scoring in the half for Penn State Altoona, which found itself down 32-26 at the half.

But Lock Haven used a big second half to pull away and win comfortably. In the second quarter, the Bald Eagles held a 27-12 scoring advantage before producing a 25-15 fourth quarter.

"Poor defense, along with being out-rebounded and committing a large number of turnovers, creates a challenge to win games," said Shoup. "However, this is a great learning opportunity for us, and it will allow us to make adjustments that are necessary to win games."

Next up, Penn State Altoona women's basketball hits the road for Harrisonburg, Va. this weekend to compete in Eastern Mennonite University's Tip-Off Invitational. On Friday, November 17 at 5:00 p.m., the Lady Lions face Salem College. The next day, Saturday, November 18 at 3:00 p.m., Penn State Altoona goes up against host school Eastern Mennonite.