Brescia: home and away – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup

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Well, here we are.

Playoffs? Yes, playoffs.

It’s tournament time for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. What a wild ride these two clubs have taken us on this season.

The two have both dealt with their own injuries, hot streaks, cold streaks and everything in between.

It’s win or go home time. It’s do or die. Insert typical sports playoff cliché here.

Listen, it’s not going to be easy for either of these two just to survive the first round. Even after the first round, the teams have an uphill climb to the national tournament.

The first round of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Tournament tips off Wednesday night.

The men (16-10, 9-7 KIAC) have the No. 2 seed in the Capital Division and host Brescia (Ky.) (5-12, 9-7 KIAC), the No. 3 seed in the Capital Division. The women (19-10, 12-5 KIAC) have the No. 3 seed travel to Brescia (18-13, 13-5 KIAC), the No. 2 seed, for the tournament’s first round.

If the women survive their dance with the Bearcats, they’ll face the winner of Alice Lloyd (Ky.) and the bracket’s No. 1 seed, Indiana University East. The IU East Red Wolves have defeated the Pioneers in both meetings this year and have won 10 straight.

The Bearcats traveled from Owensboro, Ky. early in the season for a doubleheader with Point Park.

Point Park was playing its fourth game in five days and held a 5-2 record at the time. The Pioneers shot just 23 percent from the field and trailed by 12 at the end of the first half.

The Pioneers turned things around in the second half, shooting 55 percent en route to a 70-64 victory. Point Park dropped Brescia to 1-5 on the season and handed the Bearcats a loss in their first KIAC game on the season.

Brescia is 13-4 in conference play since losing that game in mid-November to Point Park. The Bearcats are 5-1 in the month of February and are coming off a 112-91 victory over Rio Grande (Oh.), which is ahead of Point Park in the KIAC Colonial standings.

Point Park, on the other hand, has struggled offensively at times and has dealt with injuries recently. The Pioneers are 6-4 in their last 10 games and are just 1-6 when giving up more than 65 points in a game.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Brescia has the leading scorer in all of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II basketball with 701 points on the year.

Is it obvious that the defense has to show up?

It’s no secret the men’s team doesn’t stress defense. Still, they get to host a playoff game for the second straight year.

Point Park enters the playoffs with a 16-10 overall record, the most wins in the regular season since the 2007-08 season. Point Park lost in the first round of the American Mideast Conference (AMC) Tournament.

The Pioneers are riding a five-game winning streak, the longest streak in the conference entering the tournament.

Last year, Point Park finished with 16 wins, two of which came in the conference tournament. The Pioneers lost to IU East in the tournament championship.

In the semi-finals of last year’s tournament, Point Park defeated Brescia, the No. 1 seed from the KIAC Southern Division, 99-84 to advance to the championship. The Bearcats still earned a bid to the NAIA National Tournament as the conference’s top team in the regular season.

Brescia hopes to avenge its loss in last year’s tourney for the second time this season.

In the regular season meeting, Brescia defeated Point Park 70-58. Brescia has alternated wins and losses in February and is coming off a 74-71 win against Rio Grande.

The Bearcats will have to contain one of the NAIA’s top scoring offenses. Point Park ranks third in NAIA Division II in scoring offense per game averaging nearly 92 points per game.

Before this past weekend when Point Park won both conference road games, it had never won a conference road game this year. In fact, they had lost all five games outside of Pittsburgh. This first round home game is critical to the men advancing in the tournament.

Why? According to Google Maps, the nearly 500-mile trip to Owensboro lasts more than seven and a half hours. That’s a long time on a bus.

Can the women continue to persevere and survive the road game? Can the men continue their hot streak and survive past the first round of the tournament?

Before last year, the men hadn’t won a playoff game since the 2006-07 season. Bob Rager will make his 23rd playoff appearance in his 27 years as head coach at Point Park.

That’s a lot of basketball. Hopefully after Wednesday, both Point Park teams will get to play more.