by Joel Nelson
CRESSON, Pa. – The Penn State Altoona women's basketball team lost 80-56 to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference rival Mount Aloysius College at the Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center on Thursday night. The loss snaps a three-game win streak for head coach Casey Shoup's squad.
Penn State Altoona (10-10, 6-9 AMCC) struggled from the field, shooting 30.8%, while only connecting on four three-point shots on 22 attempts, 18.2%. Kristi Kaack's Lady Mounties forced 23 takeaways, and the Lady Lions were only able to force ten Mount Aloysius turnovers.
"The Mount outworked us – it's that simple. We struggled in numerous areas, with taking care of the ball being the biggest one. We committed 23 turnovers, 16 of them coming in the second half. The Mount had 17 steals to our four. That's just crazy," said Shoup. "We will use this loss as a learning opportunity to get better and forge ahead. We got knocked down, and now we have to come together, brush each other off, and get back in there and fight harder than we ever have."
The Lady Lions' strongest performance came from Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) who contributed an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double. This is Cannistraci's second double-double in the past four games. Cannistraci also blocked five shots, matching her career-high. She now has blocked an average of two shots per game over her past 12 contests.
Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) was held to seven points, snapping a 13-game streak of scoring 10 or more points. Christine's defense was on point, however, as she recorded three steals. She has recorded three or more steals in the past six games and is averaging 3.2 steals per game over her past nine contests.
Brianna Polites (Elizabethtown, PA/Elizabethtown) came off the bench to tally a career-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Polites also sunk both of her free throw attempts.
The Lady Mounties strung together a 10-2 run within the first 3:04 of the game and would not look back. Mount Aloysius led 20-11 at the end of the first period.
Despite starting the second quarter on a 5-0 run, the Lady Lions trailed 40-27 at the half. Cannistraci led the Lady Lions with six points at the end of the second period.
Jessa Wright of Mount Aloysius opened the third quarter scoring with a three-pointer 2:30 into the period. Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) answered with a three-pointer with 6:42 left in the third quarter, but Penn State Altoona would not hit another field goal until Cannistraci got a layup with 3:20 remaining. The Lady Lions were able to muscle out 11 points in the quarter but still trailed 58-38.
Mount Aloysius (15-5, 13-2 AMCC) would get the 80-56 victory, powered by leading scorers Wright and Breanna Kendrick, who tallied 17 points each. Alexia Servello brought home 16 points, and Katie Bracken got 10 points off the bench.
Mount Aloysius has now won six of their previous seven games and complete the sweep of Penn State Altoona in the 2017-18 season.
The Lady Lions will return home Saturday, February 10 for their annual Pink Zone game, which supports the fight against breast cancer, in a matchup against AMCC foe La Roche College. Afterward, they will hit the road on Wednesday, February 14 against conference opponent Pitt-Bradford. The Lady Lions finish off the regular season back in Adler Arena against AMCC rival Penn State Behrend on Saturday, February 17, when they will recognize their seniors in a pregame ceremony.