by Joel Nelson
ALTOONA, Pa. – The Penn State Altoona women's basketball team dominated on both sides of the ball in their 89-55 victory over Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference foe D'Youville College on Saturday in Adler Arena.
"I'm really happy for the ladies. They played well from start to finish," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "Great ball movement really assisted in our success offensively. We were able to score 29 points off of turnovers and 46 points in the paint."
The Lady Lions (12-10, 10-6 AMCC) had an excellent overall contribution from sophomore Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone), who collected 19 points on an 8-of-14 shooting performance and added a career-high seven steals. Cannistraci also posted seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Cannistraci now has two or more steals in six of her past eight contests.
Junior Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led all scorers with 24 points on a 9-of-16 performance, which included four makes from downtown. She also collected five boards and three assists. Junior Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) got 11 points, dished out five assists, reeled in two rebounds, and played excellent defense with three steals and a block. Junior Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) recorded her first double-double of the season with ten points and ten rebounds, and she also dished out four helpers. Freshman Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) got eight points, six rebounds, an assist, and three steals.
Off the bench, freshman Makenna Snyder (Muncy, PA/Muncy) went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for eight points. Freshmen Chloe Inman (Annville, PA/Annville-Cleona) and Emily Lehman (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) got four points each, while both going 2-of-4 from the field. Lehman and freshman Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) got two rebounds and three assists each.
"We had three players shoot 50 percent or better from the field. Makenna came off the bench and went 4-for-4. I'm so proud of her being aggressive on the offensive end. Kay's hard work paid off, and she pulled in the double-double," said Wilt. "Finn shot the ball really well, dished out three assists, and had her hands on numerous balls defensively. Paige had another complete game for us. She was given the task of containing D'Youville's second-leading scorer, Jordan Smith. Lex had a strong inside game and captured seven steals."
D'Youville struck first with a layup by Danielle Hore, but the Lady Spartans were held scoreless over the next three minutes. Cannistraci, Christine, and Stevens helped Penn State Altoona to a 7-0 run before Sara Field cut Altoona's lead to 7-4 with 6:26 left in the first period. Christine hit back-to-back three pointers at 2:26 and 1:45 to give Penn State Altoona a 17-8 lead. Burk continued that 6-0 run with a layup with 1:13 left. Penn State Altoona ended the first quarter up 19-10.
Cannistraci had a breakout second quarter for the Lady Lions, hitting four of her seven shots, including a three, for nine points. She also recorded five of her six first-half steals in the second period, as Penn State Altoona took a 13-point lead into the half, leading 39-26 over the Lady Spartans.
Within the first 3:01 of the third quarter, Penn State Altoona broke out to a 12-1 run, finished off by three-pointers from Christine and Burk. The Lady Lions were not done, as they boosted a 51-29 lead to 60-29 from the 6:59 mark to the 3:34 mark of the third period. Snyder added the final field goal for Penn State Altoona with 16 seconds left, as they outscored the Lady Spartans 30-9 in the third quarter to take a 69-35 advantage into the final quarter.
D'Youville, needing to put together a strong fourth quarter, used the middle part of the fourth quarter to knock out a 10-2 run, holding Penn State Altoona to one field goal between the 7:35 and 3:39 marks. The Lady Lions' first three quarters were the ultimate boosters to help them reach the 89-55 victory, their tenth AMCC win of the season.
For the Lady Spartans, Hore led the way with 16 points on a 7-of-12 performance. She also added five boards, three assists, and three steals. Sara Field, Alexandria McBride, and Kelsey Carpenter scored eight points each.
"As nice of a win as it is, we need to refocus and prepare for Pitt-Bradford," said Wilt. "This is a big game for us."
Penn State Altoona has now won nine of its past twelve games. They hold third place in the AMCC at 10-6 behind Hilbert College and La Roche College, who are each 13-3. The Lady Lions will make their final road trip of the regular season to AMCC foe Pitt-Bradford on Wednesday, February 13 at 6:00 p.m. They will close out their regular season at home next Saturday, February 16 at 2:00 p.m. for senior day against La Roche.