Point Park Globe

Point Park finishes season second overall in the KIAC

Written By Michael Richter

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photo by Madison Turiczek
Junior guard Ja'Nia McPhatter drives past two opponents in the game last week.

photo by Madison Turiczek
Sophomore forward Carly Forse takes her Celtic opponent baseline for a lay up in the second half of the Nancy Gallagher Cancer game.

photo by Madison Turiczek
Senior forward Natasha Moss makes a post move late in the game last Tuesday.
Moss came off the bench and ended the game with 12 points.

photo by Madison Turiczek
Sophomore guard Celina DiPietro shoots a three in the Nancy Gallagher Cancer game last week. DiPietro added 10 points.

The Point Park women’s basketball team rounded out its regular season schedule with two home victories against Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) opponents, which brought the team’s overall record to 24-4.

The Pioneers faced Carlow on Feb. 18. With approximately two minutes left in the game and Carlow up 61-60, Celtics starting forward Samantha Simpson fouled Pioneers center Baylee Buleca – the first of Carlow’s seven fouls in the game’s closing minutes. Off the fouls, the Pioneers generated nine points, leading the squad to a 69-64 triumph.

With the victory, Point Park head coach Tony Grenek recorded the 100th win of his career , which he achieved in just four years at Point Park.

Starting point guard Kelly Johnson, who is Point Park’s leader in points per game, played only in four minutes of the game due to the flu. Starting forward Ja’Nia McPhatter led the Pioneers in points with 13. Carly Forse, Pioneers starting forward, grabbed a total of 14 rebounds against Carlow; she also added seven points.

On Feb. 21, the Pioneers defeated Indiana University East (IU East) 84-67 in their final regular season act. IU East ranks third in NAIA Division II in points per game with 86.4; the Red Wolves finished the game well below their points per game average.

Prior to the game, forward Natasha Moss, guard/forward Vianka Cotton, junior varsity team members Danika Adams and Maria Romano were honored for Senior Day. All of the seniors were introduced over the PA system at Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) South, and they posed for pictures with their respective families at midcourt. After all of the seniors were introduced, the four women linked together for a group hug.

Moss was crowned player of the game for her outstanding effort in the last regular season game of her college basketball career. In the early stages of the game, Moss secured three defensive rebounds in a row for Point Park. With 35 seconds left in the first half, the senior forward connected on a three-point attempt from the corner, which was the Pioneers’ final point of the opening half. Moss nearly produced a double-double against IU East – she finished the game with 14 points and eight rebounds.

“It meant a lot to play one last regular season game with my girls,” Moss said. “But I was happier that my family got to see me play.”

Point Park dominated the first half of the game as the squad was up by as many as 20 points against IU East in the opening half.

“The last few games we started out sluggish, but in today’s game, we were on point and ready to go,” said Pioneers starting guard Alexis Xenakis.

The Red Wolves made 18.9 percent of their shots from the field in the game’s inaugural half, greatly attributing to the Pioneers’ 44-27 lead at halftime.

“On defense, especially in the first half, we were very active,” Grenek said. “And that’s the way we’re going to have to play if we are going to win games.”

In the second half of the game, IU East recorded a 32.8 field goal percentage – an improvement from the firsthalf. However, Point Park sustained a double-digit lead over the entirety of the game’s final half.

Against IU East, Johnson’s 20 points led the Pioneers; she also amassed seven assists. Additionally, Xenakis compiled 17 points, and guard Celina DiPietro scored 10 points off the bench – six of which came from two successful threepoint shots.

On Feb. 25, Point Park will play at home in the opening round of the KIAC tournament against either Midway or Cincinnati Christian. Rio Grande won the KIAC regular season title, so it clinched the first NAIA tournament bid from the KIAC. Which means Point Park must win the KIAC tournament in order to make it to the first round of the NAIA Division II tournament.

“I told the girls we’re 120 minutes [three consecutive conference tournament wins] from going to the national tournament,” Grenek said. “This is no different from the previous three years; we had to win our conference tournament to reach the national tournament in each of those seasons.”

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