Lemont Furnace, PA -
Heading into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship tournament, Penn State Fayette head coach Scott Hillen knew that his team was going to be at a height disadvantage against Andrews University, their first-round opponent.
The Nittany Lions (16-10) would have to hit shots to try to neutralize the massive height advantage that Andrews (10-11) held, but unfortunately on Sunday, Fayette only shot 27% (16 of 59) and was outrebounded, 59-24, en route to a 64-49 loss in a first-round game. The 49 points is Fayette's lowest outpoint of the season and it never led against Andrews.
"We knew their size could cause us problems and it did," Hillen said. "Our shots weren't falling, and we were having problems grabbing offensive rebounds."
The Nittany Lions, whose tallest player is only 5'9, were limited to seven offensive rebounds off of their 43 missed shots. In comparison, Andrews had 23 offensive rebounds on its 37 missed shots and won the second chance points battle, 17-2.
There was little doubt that rebounding would be an issue right off of the bat for Fayette.
Andrews grabbed 13 rebounds, including five offensive, in the first quarter while the Nittany Lions only grabbed five, with their first not coming until there was 6:48 left in the frame.
Andrews raced out to a 7-0 lead before Kaitlyn Riley (Charleroi, PA/Charleroi HS) hit a layup with 6:32 to play in the first quarter to get the Nittany Lions on the board.
Riley's basket sparked a 7-0 run over 1:59 to tie the game with 4:33 to go in the quarter, but Andrews closed the frame on an 11-2 run and led 18-9 heading into the second.
Fayette went on a 9-0 run to open the second to tie the game again, but it could not grab the lead as Andrews countered with an 8-0 run to take a 26-18 lead with 2:54 left in the half and held a 26-20 lead heading into intermission.
Andrews opened up its first double-digit lead at 38-28 with 5:21 to play in the third and took a 46-33 lead into the fourth as it cruised to the win.
Riley was the lone Fayette player to hit double figures with 21.
"We have four girls who average double figures and we won't win many games with only one player (in double figures)," Hillen said.
Riley led Fayette with six rebounds while Dae-lin Burnsworth (Monarch, PA/Connellsville HS) led Fayette with five steals while Brooke Poling (Perryopolis, PA/Frazier HS) and Taylor McCormick (Laurel, MD/Eleanor Roosevelt HS) each had four. Fayette finished with 20 steals and forced 29 Andrews turnovers while only having 16 of its own.
Jayde Broussard led three Andrews players in double figures with 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Sarah Page also finished with a double-double as she scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Andrews shot 41% (26 of 63) from the field and shot 32% (6 of 19) from three-point range while Fayette only shot 17% (5 of 30) from beyond the arc.
The Nittany Lions close their season Monday at 10am in the ARC gymnasium when they face Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Services (11-13) in a consolation game.
For more information on the women's basketball team, go to https://www.psfathletics.com/sports/wbkb/index or follow us on Instagram @fayetteathletics.
Written by Bill Hughes