Pitt-Bradford Comes Back to Defeat Lady Lions 90-87

Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona sophomore Alexis Cannistraci goes to the hoop during Wednesday night's game against Pitt-Bradford.
Photo (by Tim Belardi): Penn State Altoona sophomore Alexis Cannistraci goes to the hoop during Wednesday night's game against Pitt-Bradford.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona women's basketball led by as many as 11 points during Wednesday night's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference matchup in the Adler Arena, but visiting Pitt-Bradford came back to win 90-87.

Penn State Altoona's (2-4, 1-2 AMCC) offense played well, as six different players finished the game with double-digit point totals, and the team also held a 48-44 advantage in rebounds. But the Lady Lions were hurt by 22 turnovers and were unable to close the game out in the second half.

"I feel that we played a tough game tonight. One of our focal points was to outwork them on the boards, and we succeeded," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "We still have a great deal of work to do with not committing so many turnovers. 22 is way too many. If we would have taken better care of the ball, I believe the outcome would have ended differently."

Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) led the way for the Lady Lions with her third double-double of the season, scoring a team-high 23 points and tying for the team lead in rebounds with 13. Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) put up a season-high 16 points, and Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) recorded her first double-double of the year with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go along with six assists, which tied for the team-high.

Emily Lehman (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) totaled a season-best 13 points for Penn State Altoona. Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) added 10 points while posting season-highs with nine rebounds and six assists, and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) rounded out her team's double-digit scoring with 10 points.

"Paige and Lex ended with double-doubles, and Fin was one rebound shy of getting one, as well," said Wilt. "I loved how aggressive Jess was offensively tonight. She does a great job of setting up our offense and distributing to others, which is great, but I told her before the game to take the shots when she's open. Emily came in and gave us great minutes."

Pitt-Bradford (3-4, 3-0 AMCC) was led in scoring by Shirleah Ragin, who put up a game-high 25 points while leading her team with five assists. Jennifer Isenberg added a 23-point, 10-rebound effort for the Lady Panthers, and Shaelyn Snipes scored 19 points while grabbing eight rebounds and recording four steals.

Penn State Altoona came out with a strong first quarter to establish a nine-point lead early in the game. Down 6-5 at the 6:20 mark, the Lady Lions went on a 15-3 run over the next 5:20 to go up by 11 points, which represented the team's largest lead of the evening. During that run, Cannistraci provided six points, while Stevens scored five points. Lehman's layup with three seconds left in the period made it 22-13.

Pitt-Bradford outscored the Lady Lions 26-19 in the second quarter to draw within two points of the home team's lead. Cannistraci's jump shot at 7:28 kept Penn State Altoona up 27-19, but two baskets by Etreece Adams and another from Jasmin Miller cut the lead to 27-26 by 5:10. The Lady Lions regained an eight-point lead by the 3:32 mark with Cannistraci's three-pointer and pair of foul shots, an Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) layup, and two free throws by Strittmatter. Burk's jumper at 2:46 kept the difference at eight points, 38-30. But Snipes' layup at the 40-second mark and Isenberg's three-pointer at the buzzer cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 41-39 by the intermission.

The Lady Lions started the second half on a 6-0 run, using a pair of Stevens layups and a bucket by Cannistraci to make it 47-39 by 8:35. Burk's trey at 6:10 gave Penn State Altoona a 53-43 lead.

But Pitt-Bradford whittled away at the Lady Lions' lead and eventually tied the score later in the third quarter. Isenberg's layup at 2:21 made it a two-point game, 57-55, and Snipes' three-pointer at 1:07 tied the score 60-60. Penn State Altoona regained the lead with 53 seconds left in the period on another Burk three-pointer.

The Lady Lions continued to fend off Pitt-Bradford early in the fourth quarter, maintaining a modest lead. Lehman's basket and Christine's three-pointer put their team's lead at 68-62 one minute into the final period.

But the Lady Panthers kept hanging around. Isenberg's jumper at 5:10 and Snipes' three-pointer at 4:36 made it a two-point game once again, 77-75. Ragin connected from three-point range at 2:53 to make it 81-80, and Pitt-Bradford grabbed an 82-81 lead at 2:06 on Isenberg's layup. Miller's trey and two free throws by Ragin gave the visitors an 87-83 advantage with 26 seconds to play.

Burk helped make things interesting in the game's final seconds, connecting for her third three-pointer of the game with 14 seconds remaining to cut Pitt-Bradford's lead to 88-87. But the Lady Panthers got two points back on a pair of foul shots by Ragin with 10 seconds to play, and they held Penn State Altoona scoreless in their final two possessions.

The Lady Lions will look to regroup from tonight's loss and turn the page for their next game, which is this Saturday, December 8 at AMCC opponent Penn State Behrend. Tipoff in Erie, Pa. is set for 6:00 p.m.