Women’s basketball wins despite turnover issues

Written By Michael Richter

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In its second consecutive tightly contested affair, the Point Park women’s basketball team defeated the University of Northwestern Ohio at home on Nov. 7.

“We came through when it meant the most,” said Point Park head coach Tony Grenek.

The Pioneers came out on top 64-55 over the Racers, bringing the Pioneers to a 1-1 overall record. Up until the final minute of play, each team’s respective point total remained four or less apart from each other. However, the Pioneers managed to make clutch baskets and hold the Racers to a 32.4 field goal percentage.

“It looks like we’re going to have our struggles offensively,” Grenek said. “We’re going to have to go back to our old philosophy of holding teams to 60 points or less.”

With 7:45 left in the opening quarter, Racers guard Porsha Buchanan swiped the ball away from the hands of Pioneers guard Alexis Xenakis — then she passed the ball to her Racers teammate, forward Sogona Sidibe, who scored on a layup. That play was the first two points out of eight that the Racers scored off Pioneers turnovers in the first quarter, and it was the second of seven turnovers committed by the Pioneers in the first quarter, which helped the visiting team garner a 20-12 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Point Park limited its turnovers in the second quarter to four, and it had a 12-4 run to end the first half, which enabled them to tie the game 32-32 by the end of the half.

Less than 20 seconds into the second half, forward Carly Forse scored on a jump shot in the paint to give the Pioneers a 34-32 edge — which was the squad’s first lead over the Racers since the initial couple minutes of the game.

The Racers made only 28 percent of their shots from the field in the second half, but Point Park’s 14 turnovers in the second half allowed the visitors to remain in the game.

“We’re still turning the ball over way too much,” Grenek said. “We had several chances to build a substantial lead against them (the Racers), but we couldn’t do it because we would give the ball away.”

Four missed shots, two turnovers and a foul from Pioneers center Baylee Buleca in the final two minutes of the third quarter allowed the Racers to go into the fourth quarter with a 48-46 lead.

Forward Leah Hurst opened up the final quarter with a three-pointer from the corner, putting the Pioneers up 49-48. After that, the Racers never produced another lead in the game.

Guard Celina DiPietro followed with a three of her own with 8:21 left in the game to increase the Pioneers lead to 52-48. Following a Racers retaliation, at 5:59 on the game clock, Xenakis connected from beyond the arc, which placed the Pioneers ahead 55-50.

“We hit the key shots down the stretch,” Grenek said.

Down 60-55 with 47 seconds to go, the Racers committed three fouls and missed their final three shots. Therefore, unlike in the season opener against Bluefield College, the Pioneers came away victorious in a back-and-forth, close game.

“We got it into our heads that we needed to play better,” said Buleca.

DiPietro led Point Park in points against the Racers with 17 — nine of which came from three pointers. Forse led the team in rebounds with 10, and Buleca was a close second with nine rebounds, which helped Point Park grab the rebound edge over Northwestern Ohio 40-36.

“Coach (Grenek) told us that we were out-rebounded by 11 in the first game of the season,” Buleca said. “So the other post players and I made sure that wouldn’t happen again.”

This game marked the first career start for Buleca. The Pioneers employed a zone defense against the Racers. Grenek stated after the win against the Racers that he will start Buleca any time the team uses a zone defense for the majority of a game.

“[Buleca] takes up space in the middle, and that helps our zone defense tremendously,” Grenek said.

Next for the Pioneers is a road game against Washington Adventist on Nov. 12, and they believe they will continue to improve, as they are growing accustom to one another.

“[Against Northwestern Ohio] we worked with each other more,” Xenakis said. “We’re just gonna keep getting better and better each day.”

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