Point Park Globe

Women’s basketball perseveres

Written By Michael Richter

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Photos courtesy of Sam Robinson, Point Park Athletics
Senior guard Alexa Xenakis defenders her net against the Ohio Christian offense in a 44-40 win at CCAC South on Jan. 14.

As the Point Park women’s basketball team was up 42-40 over Ohio Christian University with six seconds left in the game, Pioneers forward Carly Forse’s second free throw shot ricocheted off the rim. However, Pioneers forward Leah Hurst leaped into the air amidst two Ohio Christian players and snagged the ball, securing the victory. 

“I was really happy,” said Hurst as she recalled her late game rebound. “I knew if I got that rebound, we would have the game for sure.” 

The Pioneers defeated conference foe Ohio Christian 44-40 in a defense-dominated battle at home on Jan. 14. The win improved the Pioneers’ overall record to 13-6 and their Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) record to 6-2. 

Point Park is third in the KIAC in scoring defense, and Ohio Christian is seventh in the nation in scoring defense. Against Ohio Christian, the Pioneers recorded their lowest amount of total points scored in a single game so far this season. 

However, the Pioneers put on their best defensive performance of this season thus far, as Ohio Christian’s 40 total points is the lowest amount they have given up in a single game this season. 

Pioneers guard Alexis Xenakis expects more out of her team’s offense, and she, like the rest of the team, was disappointed with the offensive side of the ball against Ohio Christian.

“We expect to score more than 44 points,” Xenakis said. “We just have to get out of this funk.” 

Pioneers head coach Tony Grenek attributed his zone defense, a scheme he said he has used for 38 straight quarters (nine-and-a-half games), to the Pioneers defense domination of the Ohio Christian offense. 

“It [the zone defense] is something we’ve been sticking to,” Grenek said. “We aren’t a fast team, so we have to play strong in the zone. We couldn’t play man-to-man [against Ohio Christian].” 

The Pioneers’ offense had trouble generating points against the Ohio Christian defense. The Pioneers finished with a 31.8 field goal percentage. Ohio Christian’s man-to-man defense prevented the Pioneers from getting good looks at the basket, and it caused them to turn the ball over 14 times — 10 of which were in the first half. 

“Ohio Christian plays terrific man-to-man defense,” Grenek said. “We really struggled with it tonight. We couldn’t get open, and we couldn’t hit shots. And I think it’s because they pressured us. We have to get better and be able to handle that type of pressure.”

For the entire first half, the Pioneers and Ohio Christian were within three points of each other. During the first half, there were two instances in which neither team scored for three minutes, and there was one scoreless stretch that lasted for four minutes. At the end of the half, both teams were tied at 19. 

In the third quarter, both Point Park and Ohio Christian produced the most amount of points out of all four quarters. The third quarter also produced the two biggest leads of the night, both of which were Pioneers leads. 

The Pioneers also went six-for-six from the free throw line in third quarter, which helped them gain six and seven point leads in the third quarter. Yet, by the end of the third quarter, the Pioneers held a 35-33 lead over Ohio Christian. 

During the fourth quarter, Ohio Christian only led the Pioneers once, but came close to scoring game-winning baskets on a couple occasions with merely seconds remaining. 

With 34 seconds left and the Pioneers up 41-40, Point Park sophomore Baylee Buleca passed the ball to Hurst, who mishandled it and the ball bounced out of bounds, giving the ball back to Ohio Christian. 

On the ensuing possession, Ohio Christian guard Breyonia Hearn saw her pass sail out-of-bounds because the intended receiver was not looking in her direction. This gave the ball back to the Pioneers with 18 seconds left. 

After running off 12 seconds, Pioneers forward Carly Forse was fouled and sent to the line for two shots. Forse sank her first shot. Her second shot bounced off of the rim and into the hands of Hurst — who moments earlier could have cost her team the game when she turned the ball over — who was now a hero. Hurst’s rebound set up a trip to foul line for Pioneers forward Celina DiPietro, who made both shots, which put the game out of reach with about five seconds left. 

While the Pioneers came away with a win, they realize they must improve. 

“You can’t put up 44 points at home and expect to beat many teams,” Grenek said. “We have to get better at rebounding, and get higher shooting percentages. We have to get better overall if we want to make a run.” 

Sophomore center Baylee Buleca takes the opening tipoff against Ohio Christian in a 44-40 win at CCAC South on Jan. 14.

 

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