MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Penn State Harrisburg led for nearly the entire first half and much of the second before holding off a late charge by Wilkes on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 23. The Lions were led by Miranda Zeanchock's (Carrolltown, Pa. / Cambria Heights) season-high 21 points. The junior's effort, along with a double-double by freshman Kaitlyn Carmo (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra Area), helped the ladies earn their first home victory of the young season; a 69-64 decision over the Lady Colonels.
The Blue & White got off to a hot start from beyond the arc, with Zeanchock knocking down a three-ball to begin the scoring and Carmo following it up with back-to-back triples of her own. Sophomore Jasmine Yanich (Harrisburg, Pa. / Susquehanna Township) got into the long-range scoring act when she connected from downtown with 11:37 left in the first half, she kept the ladies' lead steady at 16-10.
It took the visitors a bit to settle in but once they did, they slowly made a push as the first half wound down. The Colonels used an 11-4 run over a nearly six minute period to take their first lead of game at 21-20 at the 5:51 mark, before taking their largest lead of the opening stanza at 24-20 two and a half minutes later.
Penn State Harrisburg regrouped and used buckets from juniors Rachel Moyer (Carlisle, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) and Hannah Jorich (Middletown, Pa. / Middletown Area) as well as free throws by sophomore Kiara Carter (Bronx, N.Y. / Milton Hershey) to reclaim the advantage. Zeanchock capped the first half scoring by knocking down another three-pointer off a pretty Jorich drive and dish with six seconds left on the clock, giving the Blue & White a 29-26 lead heading into the break.
The Lions opened the second half with an 11-5 run over the first 3:46 that included a Moyer three-pointer and two layups by freshman Rebecca Bailey (Tobyhanna, Pa. / Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg). The ladies' quick surge gave them their largest lead to that point at 40-31 with 16:14 left to play.
Wilkes refused to roll over, however, and fought back once again with a run of its own. Facing the nine-point deficit, the Colonels used an up-tempo, fast-break style push to outscore the Lions 11-3 over the next four minutes. A pair of Elena Stambone foul shots cut the deficit to just one point with a little over 12 minutes remaining in regulation.
From there, both offenses went cold and failed to score for nearly the next three minutes. Carter finally broke the drought with a layup that upped the Blue & White advantage to 45-42 but Stambone hit a big shot from beyond the arc to knot things up at 47 apiece with 7:58 remaining.
The score remained close down the stretch and Wilkes' Chelsea Smelas went 1-2 from the charity stripe to keep it tied at 51 at the 6:01 mark. But as Zeanchock and Carmo did all day long, the pair came up big when needed most with Zeanchock connecting from long distance to break the stalemate and make it 54-51 with 5:28 remaining and Carmo hitting another three-ball to increase the lead to 59-53 with 4:26 left to play. Over a two-minute stretch, the duo combined to score ten-straight Penn State Harrisburg tallies.
Bailey converted two free throws to give the Lions their largest advantage of the contest at 65-54 with 2:19 remaining and despite a Stambone three-pointer and Chelsea Brown old-fashioned three-point play that cut the Blue & White lead to 67-64 with nine seconds left, the ladies executed enough in crunch time to hold off Wilkes' potentially dangerous, late surge.
Zeanchock went 6-11 from the field and 6-6 from the free throw line and added five rebounds, two assists and two steals to go along with her team-leading point total. Carmo continued her string of strong outings and reached the double-digit scoring mark for the third-straight game with 14 tallies and ten boards. Bailey netted ten and dished out four assists while Carter grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Jorich racked up five assists and five steals; both totals were game-highs.
The Lions shot 40 percent from beyond the arc and an impressive 94.4 percent from the foul line (17-18) compared to Wilkes' 64.3 percent conversion rate from the charity stripe (18-28). The ladies got a nice contribution from the reserves with 17 points coming off the bench.
The victory improved Penn State Harrisburg to 2-2 on the year and was a nice rebound following the team's tough loss to Messiah in the ladies' home opener just three nights prior. Coming into their matchup with the Blue & White, the Colonels had dropped two games by a combined four points.
The Lions play one final game before enjoying a short Thanksgiving break. Penn State Harrisburg travels to Immaculata for its third road game of the young season on Tuesday night, Nov. 26.
Follow us on Twitter - @PSHbgAthletics
Follow us on Facebook – group name PSHathletics
Photos courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg photographer Victoria Masse
Videos courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg videographer Martika Porr