By: Matylda Zamudio
Monaca, Pa. – Penn State Beaver made a game-changing 10-point run to forge a second-half comeback against Geneva College in Monday night's 'county game' victory.
Sophomore guard Diamond Thomas (Pittsburgh/Carlynton) led the charge for Beaver, scoring 17 points, five rebounds and four assists followed by freshman guard Alexis Cross (Columbiana) who added 11 points, five rebounds and two steals of her own. Freshman forward Jimya Chambers (Phoenix/Westview) had a game-high seven steals while she and freshman guard Emily Keener (Utica) contributed 8 points each.
Senior USCAA First Team All-American, 2017-18 PSUAC All-Conference First Team and 2017-18 PSUAC Player of the Year forward Brittany Jackson (Turtle Creek/Westinghouse) led Beaver with 8 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
In the first quarter, Thomas initiated Beaver's scoring with a layup and a free throw in the first two minutes of the game to give Beaver an early 3-0 lead. Geneva tied it up at the 5:13 mark, but Beaver regained a 3-point lead with only 2:47 left in the quarter. The lead was short-lived as Beaver trailed by 2 points before halftime (12-10).
Beaver stayed within one possession of Geneva for the first minute of the second quarter until a 5-point run put Beaver in an 8-point deficit down to the 1:49 mark. But a late-quarter layup by Chambers paired with a foul call on Geneva sent her straight to the free-throw line where she cut Geneva's lead down to 5 points. Geneva scored again but Beaver remained only two-possessions down (27-21) right before the half.
The game remained within two possessions in the first three minutes of the third quarter, until a layup by Thomas followed quickly by a steal from Chambers prompted Beaver to make a 10-point run five and a half minutes in. Cross then drilled a 3-pointer 28 seconds later, which propelled Beaver to take a two-score lead over Geneva at 38-34. Beaver ended the third up 44-40, outscoring Geneva 23-13.
The teams played tightly contested early in the fourth quarter with Beaver ahead by 3 points. But a steal immediately followed by a layup by Keener helped Beaver edge out a 6-point lead down to the 6:53 mark (49-43). Geneva then tied the game at 49-49, and then the teams traded 1-point leads until only 28 seconds were left on the clock. But two late foul calls on Geneva allowed Thomas and Keener to sink two free throws each and give Beaver a 5-point lead at 59-54. Then, Geneva made a late-game layup, but Beaver ran the clock down, and the defense kept the pressure on Geneva's scorers, forcing them to take a difficult shot at the last second from behind the arch and miss, sealing Beaver's win, 59-56.
Coach Sean Strickland said the Lady Lions really brought their energy starting the third quarter. Strickland added that the defense helped the offense by creating the tempo for easy baskets, which really changed the game for Beaver in the second half.
Beaver outscored Geneva 17-15 in points off turnovers, 11-8 on second-chance points and 28-10 in the paint. After tonight's win against Geneva, Beaver now sits at 4-1 overall in the regular season.
The Lady Lions will be back in action to compete against conference rival Penn State DuBois on the road Tuesday, Nov. 27. The game is set for 6 p.m