MIDDLETOWN, Pa- Prior to the matchup between the Lions and conference foe Keuka on Sunday, Jan. 16 , it was evident that this game would have ramifications not just on Penn State Harrisburg's season, but on the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) standings as well. The Storm came into Middletown undefeated in conference play. On the other hand, a second NEAC loss might be too much for the blue and white to overcome at this point in the season. On this day however, it was Penn State Harrisburg that played like the undefeated squad.
The blue and white sent the visitors away with their first conference loss of the year. But this was no ordinary defeat. This was a trouncing.
The Lions upended their New York counterparts 69-35 thanks to big time scoring efforts by Monet Cunningham (Highspire, PA/Bishop McDevitt) and Daril Foose (Altoona, PA/Altoona). The ladies also played stingy defense and forced an impressive 28 Storm turnovers.
Steph Yetter (Thompsontown, PA/East Juniata) got things started for the home team when she knocked down a three-ball a minute and a half into the contest. The Lions stayed hot offensively and jumped out to a 16-5 advantage at the 8:57 mark.
After a layup by Keuka's Morgan Engelbert (Elmira, NY/Thomas Edison) cut the deficit to just five points with 3:25 remaining in the half, it looked as if the Storm were mounting a rally.
But Penn State Harrisburg closed out the period with ten unanswered points that pushed the score to 30-15. The key run was capped off by a Brittani Guerre (Tobyhanna, PA/Pocono Mountain West) steal and layup as the buzzer sounded.
It was more of the same in the second half. The ladies attacked the basket and got to the foul line often. Amanda Moyer's (Carlisle, PA/Cumberland Valley) free throw at the 13:15 mark increased the Lions' lead to 25 points.
Foose scored nine of the Lions' next 13 points in a span of just over five minutes to put things out of Keuka's reach for good.
Cunningham was the game's high-scorer. She poured in 22 points, including three field goals from beyond the arc, to go along with her four assists. After getting into early foul trouble, Foose exploded offensively to the tune of 19 tallies. She also gathered in seven rebounds and recorded four blocks. Yetter chipped in with nine points and nine boards, Moyer grabbed nine rebounds of her own and Dorothea Dixon (Middletown, PA/Middletown) dished out a game-high five assists in addition to nabbing six steals.
Penn State Harrisburg stifled the Storm's offense all game long. Only Brittany Hadley (Jasper, NY/Jasper-Troupsburg) netted double-digit points with ten. Engelbert corralled a game-best 11 rebounds.
The strong victory improved the Lions to 7-6 on the year and 5-1 in conference play; good enough to put the team in sole possession of the NEAC South Division's top spot.
Penn State Harrisburg will look to add to that conference win total when the ladies travel to Gallaudet for their next contest on Wednesday, Jan. 18.