STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Penn State Altoona women's basketball saw its five-game winning streak end on Wednesday evening, when the Lady Lions suffered a 77-61 loss to Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Franciscan University in the Finnegan Fieldhouse.
Franciscan (2-14, 2-8 AMCC) started strong and built a 13-point lead by halftime. The Lady Barons were powered by exceptional shooting, as they made 54.7% of their shots from the field.
Meanwhile, Penn State Altoona (8-8, 6-4 AMCC) was unable to find its rhythm after falling behind early in the game. The Lady Lions shot just 35.5% from the field, including going only 2-for-19 from beyond the arc.
"Franciscan shot the ball very well tonight. They played a good game on both ends of the floor," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "We got away from what has been working for us lately. I, too, made a costly mistake. I should have called a timeout sooner than I did when Franciscan went up 20-10. We can allow this moment to define us, or we can use it as a learning tool and light a fire under our bottoms. We can come out of this loss stronger and better."
Jessica Stevens (Altoona, PA/Altoona) led all scorers with 17 points for Penn State Altoona, and she also grabbed eight rebounds. Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) posted her eighth double-double of the season by scoring 13 points and securing a game-high 11 rebounds, and Alivia Borlie (Belsano, PA/Bishop Carroll) finished with a season-high 10 points scored.
Franciscan got 16 points from Gaby DeJesus, while Angela Starre added 15 points. Abby Baierl had a double-double performance with 13 points and 10 boards.
Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) scored the game's first points with a three-pointer 40 seconds into the opening quarter. After Franciscan jumped ahead, Finnley Christine's (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) layup midway through the period trimmed Penn State Altoona's deficit to 10-9, and Strittmatter's free throw at 4:18 tied the score at 10.
But the momentum swung in Franciscan's favor, as the home team reeled off a 10-0 run over the next two minutes. During that run, the Lady Barons got three-pointers from DeJesus and Raegan Stead, whose trey at 2:17 gave her team the 10-point advantage. Borlie and Cannistraci made layups inside the final two minutes of the period, but Penn State Altoona found itself trailing 22-14 by the end of the quarter.
Franciscan continued to build its lead in a low-scoring second quarter, won 12-7 by the Lady Barons. Layups from Kaitlyn Sonneberger, Baierl, and Godich helped Franciscan maintain a 10-point lead by the halfway point of the quarter, and a pair of scores from Stead increased it to 12 points, 32-20, with 2:27 to go. Rose Judge's jumper with 1:20 left capped the scoring for the half, and Penn State Altoona went into the intermission down 34-21.
Despite a run by the Lady Lions, Franciscan did not yield any ground by the end of the third quarter. Starre's three-pointer at 7:36 gave the Lady Barons an 18-point lead, 41-23.
Penn State Altoona used a 12-2 rally to cut Franciscan's lead to 43-35 by the 3:19 mark. Six points came from Cannistraci during that stretch, and Stevens' layup ended the run to make it an eight-point game.
But Franciscan ended the quarter by outscoring the Lady Lions 8-2, as Rebekah Nevarez, Starre, DeJesus, and Stead each scored buckets to help the home team finish the period up 51-37.
Penn State Altoona made another push early in the fourth quarter, using a three-point play from Christine and two Stevens foul shots to make it a nine-point game, 51-42.
But Penn State Altoona was unable to get any closer the rest of the way. Franciscan went on to lead by as many as 19 points, which came at the 2:31 mark when DeJesus' jump shot made it 69-50.
Despite the loss, Penn State Altoona held several statistical advantages over Franciscan, leading 34-29 in rebounds, 12-2 in second chance points, and 28-22 in points in the paint.
Next, the Lady Lions face another AMCC opponent on the road, as the team will travel to Buffalo, N.Y. this Saturday, January 19 to play Medaille College at 2:00 p.m.