Pioneers fall in KIAC semifinals Miss nationals for first time in four years

Written By Michael Richter

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The Point Park women’s basketball team saw its season come to an abrupt end in the semifinal of Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Tournament.

On Feb. 25, the Pioneers defeated Midway 82-79 in the opening round of the KIAC Tournament. Prior to the game, Midway held a 12-15 record and lost to Point Park back on Jan. 24. However, the game was a tightly contested matchup throughout its entirety. It contained nine lead changes, 12 ties and a combined 52 turnovers from both teams — 25 of those turnovers were committed by Point Park, which was a season high for the team.

“Midway forced us to play poorly,” said Pioneers head coach Tony Grenek. “We had way too many mental errors. We threw the ball out of bounds carelessly a few times. We stepped out of bounds accidentally a few times. But we prevailed, and that’s all that matters.”

Point Park starting point guard Kelly Johnson finished the game with 27 points, five assists, four steals, and she made the game-winning basket from inside the paint with 1:26 remaining in the game.

“Driving to the basket is one of my strong points, and it came in handy tonight,” Johnson said. Pioneers starting forward Carly Forse went 6-7 from the field and scored 16 points whilst only playing 19 minutes.

“I saw some of my teammates struggling, so I decided to pick up my play,” Forse said.

Asbury defeated the Pioneers 65-57 on Feb. 28 at home in the semifinals of the KIAC Tournament, which cut Point Park’s season to an end, leaving it out of the NAIA Division II national tournament.

Point Park led 32-31 and had the rebounding edge at the half, but Asbury started to gain momentum toward the end of the first half, which carried over into the second half. By out-rebounding the Pioneers 31-15 in the second half, the Eagles ended up winning the rebounding battle with a 51-35 advantage.

The loss marked the first year in Grenek’s four years as Point Park head coach that the Pioneers have not competed in the NAIA Division II Tournament. Furthermore, the defeat closed the final chapter in the respective careers of Kayla Kiriau, Natasha Moss and Vianka Cotton.

However, Johnson and forward Ja’Nia McPhatter received individual awards for the 2014-15 season.

Johnson received the KIAC Newcomer of the Year Award following her first season with the Pioneers after transferring from Clarion University. She finished the season with 17.1 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, 3.6 steals per game and 109 total steals, which is now a school record.

McPhatter won the KIAC Comeback Player of the Year Award after a season in which she scored 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. She missed the entire 2013-14 season due to injury.

Moreover, Johnson and McPhatterwere also named to the 2014-15 All-KIAC team.

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