ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona women's basketball got its 2018-19 season off to a thrilling start on Friday evening, posting an 83-82 victory over non-conference opponent Geneva College in the Adler Arena.
Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored a career-high 24 points to lead Penn State Altoona (1-0), and she also tied for the game-high with 12 rebounds to seal the double-double. Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) added 16 points and five assists, and Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg) scored 10 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists, and a career-best five blocks. Burk's total of five blocks is tied for the third-most in a game in Lady Lions history.
Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) added nine points, including the game-tying three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) chipped in eight points apiece, and Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) added seven points.
Callie Ford led Geneva (0-1) with a game-high 39 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Alexis Gates and Kaitlyn Totani added 15 points each.
In a tight, back-and-forth game, Penn State Altoona found itself ahead 70-67 late in the fourth quarter following Stevens' layup and a Burk foul shot.
But Geneva worked its way into the lead with less than a minute left in the period. Ford's three-pointer at 1:46 tied the score 70-70. After two Cannistraci free throws, Gates answered with two foul shots of her own to keep things tied, 72-72, at the 1:09 mark. Gates proceeded to connect from three-point range with 40 seconds left to give the Golden Tornadoes a 75-72 lead.
But, following a timeout, Stevens hit from downtown with 28 seconds on the clock to tie the score 75-75. Penn State Altoona's defense held Geneva scoreless on its final possession, and the game headed into overtime.
The Lady Lions grabbed a 79-78 lead by 3:45 of the overtime period, thanks to layups from Stevens and Snyder. But Geneva reclaimed its advantage with another Ford trey and a Gates free throw, jumping ahead 82-79 with 2:57 left.
But Penn State Altoona rallied one last time to take back the lead for good. The Lady Lions' defense held Geneva scoreless for the remainder of the period, while scoring two buckets of their own.
Burk's jumper at 2:36 cut Geneva's lead to one, 82-81, and Cannistraci scored the go-ahead basket at 1:15 on her jump shot that put her team up 83-82.
Penn State Altoona finished with advantages over Geneva in points in the paint (36-28) and fastbreak points (12-2).
Next up, Penn State Altoona women's basketball will travel to play Shenandoah University tomorrow, Saturday, November 17 at 2:00 p.m.