ALFRED, N.Y. – A strong defensive effort by the Penn State Altoona women's basketball team on Monday led to a 77-51 victory at Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Alfred State College in the Orvis Gymnasium.
The Lady Lions (9-5, 7-3 AMCC) forced Alfred State (4-12, 2-8 AMCC) into making 22 turnovers while limiting the Pioneers to a 27.3 percent field goal percentage. Penn State Altoona's 55 points surrendered is the third-fewest the team has allowed in a game this season.
"I was much more pleased with our efforts tonight. We got back to running the floor and attacking the basket," said Penn State Altoona head coach Casey Wilt. "I thought our defensive efforts were much better tonight. We communicated and had consistent help defense."
Sydney Snyder (New Enterprise, PA/Northern Bedford) led all scorers with a season-high 21 points for the Lady Lions, and she also totaled six rebounds and three assists. Alexis Cannistraci (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) scored 15 points, tied the team-high with eight rebounds, and tallied three steals and two blocks. Kaley Strittmatter (Williamsburg, PA/Penn Cambria) had 14 points and six rebounds.
Finnley Christine (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) contributed eight points, eight rebounds, and four steals off the bench. Sarah Huston (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) grabbed eight boards and had team-highs with five steals and four assists, and Paige Burk (Claysburg, PA/Claysburg-Kimmel) led all players with three blocks and also finished with five boards and four assists.
"The thing I really appreciated was the fact that we challenged the team to see which one could obtain 10 rebounds first," explained Wilt. "Each of them went out and tried to reach that goal. We had several come close with eight each."
Kelsey Shaulis led Alfred State in scoring with 17 points, and Emily Kelley scored 11 points for the Pioneers.
Penn State Altoona started the game on an 8-0 run, getting baskets from Huston, Cannistraci, and Strittmatter, along with two free throws by Cannistraci. Later, back-to-back jump shots from Christine and Chloe Inman (Annville, PA/Annville-Cleona) gave the Lady Lions a 16-8 lead by 3:42. Alfred State finished the period on a 9-2 run to close the gap to 18-17 by the quarter's end, getting five points from Jordyn Pettit and four from Shaulis.
Penn State Altoona added to its lead by outscoring Alfred State 21-10 during the second quarter. Strittmatter's layup and foul shot at 6:59 made it 25-21, and a three-pointer from Snyder and layup from Cannistraci made it 30-23 by 5:31. Another basket from Strittmatter at 1:53 increased her team's lead to 10 points, 35-25, and foul shots from Snyder and Alyssa Hibbs (Richfield, PA/East Juniata) made the score 39-27 by halftime.
The Lady Lions had their best quarter of the game during the third, during which the team outscored Alfred State 26-14 while shooting 9-for-16 from the field. Snyder's two-point jumper and three-pointer started the scoring, and buckets from Christine and Cannistraci made it 61-39 with three minutes left in the quarter. Back-to-back scores by Inman and Kassidy Sorichetti (Halifax, PA/Halifax) got Penn State Altoona to the 65-point mark.
Penn State Altoona maintained a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, taking their largest lead of the game at the 2:48 mark, when Huston's three-pointer made it 77-48.
"Give Alfred State credit. They are scrappy, quick, and they never quit," said Wilt. "We really had to hone in to get the job done. Everyone stepped up and contributed tonight. It's nice to see hard work pay off."
The Lady Lions' rebounding efforts resulted in a 55-47 edge in rebounds over Alfred State. Penn State Altoona also led the Pioneers in points in the paint (36-26), fastbreak points (10-6), bench points (22-7), second chance points (11-8), and points off turnovers (12-11).
Next up, Penn State Altoona women's basketball has one of its biggest games of the season, as the Lady Lions will host first place AMCC opponent La Roche University this Wednesday, January 22. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. in the Adler Arena.
"We have a tough game coming up on Wednesday against La Roche," said Wilt. "We're going to need everyone locked in."