by Joel Nelson
ALTONA, Pa. – The Penn State Altoona women's basketball team extended its winning streak to four games with a dominant 79-63 victory over Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Pitt-Greensburg on Wednesday night in Adler Arena.
The Lady Lions (7-7, 5-3 AMCC) had solid offensive and defensive contributions from their starters in the well-rounded win.
"Tonight was a big win for us. Pitt-Greensburg is a very nice defensive team, and Nadege Durand can be difficult to contain," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "With that being said, I feel we executed our plan fairly well. They got us on the boards, but we were able to take care of other things."
Leading the way for the Lady Lions were juniors Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) and Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria), who each went 10-of-17 from the field and combined for seven assists. Christine had 23 points and Strittmatter had a season-high 21. Christine also hit three shots from downtown, while both players grabbed three rebounds.
Freshman Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) collected 17 rebounds, tying for the third-most in an individual game in team history. Stevens also dropped seven points, three assists, and one steal. Junior Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) scored seven points while going 4-of-4 from the free throw stripe. Burk also collected seven assists and two rebounds.
"Kay had a phenomenal offensive game. She and Fin shot 58.8% from the field, while Jess Stevens got it done on the boards," said Wilt. "Paige distributed the ball well, finishing with seven assists."
Junior Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone), recently named AMCC Player of the Week for the second time this season, scored 16 points with the help of a couple three-point shots. Cannistraci also brought home four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Freshman Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) scored two points and got a pair of rebounds.
For Pitt-Greensburg (4-9, 3-3 AMCC), Nadege Durand scored a team-high 23 points on an 8-of-20 performance from the field, and she went 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Durand also got 15 rebounds to complete the double-double performance. Her teammates Sam Ballow and Colleen Murphy each got 11 points and eight rebounds.
Both teams began the game trading field goals before Penn State Altoona got back-to-back baskets from Cannistraci and Strittmatter midway through the first quarter. This sparked a 16-0 run for Penn State Altoona, as Pitt-Greensburg went from the 6:49 mark to the 58-second point without a field goal. Once trailing 11-7, the Lady Lions led 24-18 at the end of the first quarter.
For the Lady Bobcats, a Durand field goal with 6:02 left in the second quarter cut Penn State Altoona's lead to four, but the Lady Lions finished the half on a 9-2 run to take a 42-31 lead at the half.
Christine, Burk, and Stevens boosted Altoona to a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter. Eventually, Penn State Altoona extended its lead to 25 points at the 4:03 and 2:26 marks of the third quarter, and the Lady Lions began the fourth quarter up by 20.
Penn State Altoona led by 11 or more points in the entire second half, using the third quarter run to help boost them to the 79-63 victory. Coach Wilt's squad also outscored the Lady Bobcats in points in the paint by a 38-22 margin, as well as outscoring Pitt-Greensburg 18-4 on the fast break. The Lady Lions combined for nine steals, with Christine, Strittmatter, and Borlie getting two each.
The Lady Lions will look to continue the four-game win streak on Saturday, January 12 with a home game against Hilbert College, currently the second place team in the AMCC. Tip time is set for 1:00 p.m.
"I'm really proud of this group," said Wilt. "We are going to have to stay focused and work hard to take on Hilbert."