Women’s Basketball Hangs on for 67-64 Win

Photo: Junior guard Paige Burk lays the ball in during Wednesday's win at Mount Aloysius College.
Photo: Junior guard Paige Burk lays the ball in during Wednesday's win at Mount Aloysius College.

CRESSON, Pa. – Penn State Altoona women's basketball pulled out a big Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference win on Wednesday evening, defeating conference opponent Mount Aloysius College 67-64 at the Athletic, Convocation, and Wellness Center.

The Lady Lions (9-8, 7-4 AMCC) held a nine-point lead at halftime and held off a second half comeback attempt from Mount Aloysius (5-13, 5-6 AMCC). Penn State Altoona has now won six of its last seven games.

"Big win tonight! We didn't play exceptionally well, but we found a way to get the job done, and we'll take it," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt.

Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) finished with a team-high 17 points for the Lady Lions and also grabbed six rebounds, and Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored 16 points while adding five assists. Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) recorded her second double-double of the season, putting up 13 points and securing a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and three steals.

Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) had 14 points and five rebounds, and Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) grabbed eight boards, scored seven points, dished out four assists, and recorded three steals.

"Paige played an all-around game. She was just shy of a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Paige, Kay, and Fin hit some big shots at key moments. Their outside shots came from dribble penetration and good ball movement," said Wilt. "Teams have been keying on Lex, and that too helps to open the outside shot for us."

Penn State Altoona's total of 12 three-pointers represented the fourth-most in a game in Lady Lions team history.

Breana Kendrick scored a game-high 18 points for Mount Aloysius, while Rachel Robinson added 16 points for the Lady Mounties. Machala Gibbons finished with 11 points.

Trailing 17-12 after the first quarter, Penn State Altoona used a big 25-11 scoring differential in the second quarter to leap ahead. Threes from Strittmatter and Burk, along with a Strittmatter two-point jumper, helped the Lady Lions go up 20-19 by the 6:30 mark. Cannistraci's jumper and Christine's three-pointer extended their team's lead to six, 30-24, and the half was closed out by a pair of Stevens free throws that gave Penn State Altoona a 37-28 advantage.

Midway through the third quarter, Christine's jumper and Strittmatter's trey helped Penn State Altoona increase its lead to 11 points, 47-36. Stevens connected from three-point range at 3:16 to keep the difference at nine points, 51-42. Mount Aloysius ended the quarter on an 11-5 run, capped by Gibbons' three-pointer with 17 seconds left that cut the Lady Lions' lead to 56-53.

Gibbons' trey at 6:42 of the fourth quarter put the Lady Mounties up, 59-58. But Christine responded with a three-pointer of her own just under two minutes later, giving Penn State Altoona a 61-59 lead.

The Lady Lions never relinquished their lead, despite one last push from Mount Aloysius. Another three-pointer from Christine at 3:39 made it a five-point game, 65-60. Macy King's jumper brought Mount Aloysius to within one, 65-64, with 1:25 to go, but two Cannistraci free throws and strong defense from Penn State Altoona helped ice the game.

"We will need to shift gears and begin to prepare for another big game on Saturday against Behrend," said Wilt.

Penn State Altoona women's basketball hosts AMCC opponent Penn State Behrend on Saturday, January 26 in the Adler Arena for a 2:00 p.m. contest. It will be Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day, and there will also be a collection of socks, hats, and gloves to benefit the AMCC's SAAC for Socks initiative.