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Barlow’s buzzer beater lifts men past Rio

Senior+guard+Gavin+Rajahpillay+shoves+a+RedStorm+opponent+to+the+side+while+driving+to+the+basket.+The+Pioneers+defeated+Rio+Grande+81-79.
Senior guard Gavin Rajahpillay shoves a RedStorm opponent to the side while driving to the basket. The Pioneers defeated Rio Grande 81-79.

Senior guard Gavin Rajahpillay shoves a RedStorm opponent to the side while driving to the basket. The Pioneers defeated Rio Grande 81-79.

Photo by Briana Nicole Walton

Photo by Briana Nicole Walton

Senior guard Gavin Rajahpillay shoves a RedStorm opponent to the side while driving to the basket. The Pioneers defeated Rio Grande 81-79.

Written By Derek Malush

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It was the late-game heroics of junior Aaron Barlow that gave the Point Park men’s basketball team its third win of the season as it kicked off River State Conference (RSC) play at home by edging the University of Rio Grande on Wednesday night, 81-79.

“They gave me the ball at the end and I just knew it was going in,” said Barlow on his game-winning 3-pointer.

The Pioneers were in control at the half as they led the RedStorm 39-35 on 46 percent shooting from the field.

Midway through the second half, Rio Grande began erasing its halftime deficit by going on an 8-0 run to take the lead 63-62. The score stood as one of the RedStorm’s two leads of the game.

Point Park quickly answered that 8-0 run with one of its own with the help of senior guard Gavin Rajahpillay’s back-to-back 3-pointers that extended the Pioneer lead to 70-63 with just over five minutes left.

“I was relieved making those two 3-pointers,” Rajahpillay said. “Each play a different man needs to step up, so it’s all a team effort.”

The Pioneers were down 79-77 with just under a minute to go in the game when senior forward Fousseini Konate drew a foul that sent him to the free throw stripe.

“I’m just trying to bring the intensity every game,” Konate said.

Konate made one of his two free throws that pulled the Pioneers within one point of the RedStorm at 79-78.

With the window of opportunity rapidly closing, Barlow scooped up a loose ball under the RedStorm hoop with seven seconds to go and ran it up the court before he dished it to sophomore guard Daniel King.

King drove to the hoop and passed it back to Barlow who drained a deep right-wing 3-pointer that gave the Pioneers the lead at 81-79 with 1.4 seconds remaining.

“They trusted me and I’m very thankful for that,” Barlow said.

The Pioneers went on to win 81-79, notching their second-straight victory as the Red Storm could not get a final shot off.

“We panicked and we made a lot of dumb mistakes down the stretch,” head coach Gabe Bubon said.

The Pioneers gave up 18 turnovers during the night, but managed to hold Rio Grande to just 43 percent shooting from the floor.

“To be lucky enough to get away with a win like that, you just got to be happy,” Bubon said. “Our defense kept us in the game but it was Barlow who finished it.”

It was a different outcome on Saturday as the Pioneers took on West Virginia Tech in their second RSC matchup of the season. The Pioneers lost 98-79 at their home floor of CCAC Allegheny.

“Everything we did wrong is fixable,” said Bubon. “Going one-on-one and not moving the ball is something we need to work on.”

Point Park shot just 41 percent from the field on the game and was heavily outrebounded by West Virginia Tech, 51-30.

The Pioneers captured their only lead of the game less than a minute into the matchup, however the Golden Bears made sure that they did not regain control.

Point Park allowed 11 3-pointers in the first half as they found themselves in a deep hole down by 13 points after the first 20 minutes of play.

“We definitely need to fix some things up defensively,” freshman guard Mark Shehady said. “We’re a new team and just need to work on our chemistry a lot more.”

West Virginia Tech built up its largest lead of the game in the second half with the help of a 20-6 run that put the Pioneers behind on the scoreboard by 28 points.

The Golden Bears never looked back as they ended Point Park’s two-game winning streak on a barrage of 3-pointers, hitting 16 shots from behind the arc on the game and shooting 53 percent from the floor.

“We could have done a lot better job closing out on shooters and rotating on defense,” junior guard Michael Connor said. “This is a group effort and not just one person, so we all need to help each other.”

The team was led by Connor and King who combined for 39 of Point Park’s 79 points.

The Pioneers now stand at 3-6 on the season and are 1-1 in RSC play. After hosting crosstown rival Carlow on Tuesday night, the Pioneers host non-conference opponent Wilberforce at home Thursday night at 5 p.m. Point Park hits the road this weekend to continue conference play at Indiana University
Kokomo.

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