Women’s basketball loses, drops to third in division

photo courtesy of Sam Robinson, Point Park Athletics
Freshmen guard Kaitlyn Smith dribbles up the court, ready to pass to a teammate in a 64-56 win over West Virginia Tech on Feb. 2 at CCAC South.

With his right elbow resting on his lap and his right hand supporting his head, Point Park women’s basketball head coach Tony Grenek shook his head with a despairing look on his face as he watched Pioneers guard Kaitlyn Smith and forward Carly Forse miss consecutive layups while Rio Grande was up by 12 points with less than four minutes remaining Saturday.

“We don’t rebound, we don’t shoot well and we don’t execute our plays well,” Grenek said.

After starting out with a 23-12 lead by the conclusion of the first quarter, the Pioneers were outscored in each of the three remaining quarters against the RedStorm. With the 75-57 road victory over Point Park (16-9) on Feb. 6, Rio Grande (16-7) assumed second place in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Colonial division standings, and the Pioneers dropped to third place.

Forse, who led the team in scoring against Rio Grande, scored eight points in the first quarter, which helped fuel the Pioneers to a 23-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. However, Forse scored nine points throughout the three remaining quarters — her performance on offense was representative of the team as a whole.

Rio Grande went on a 21-6 run throughout the second quarter. The Pioneers made less than one percent of their shots from the field during the second quarter, which allowed the RedStorm to gain a 32-29 lead at halftime. Point Park did not obtain one lead during the entire second half.

The Pioneers defense kept the score within five points for the entirety of the third quarter, but the offense was unable to string together many consecutive successful offensive possessions.

In addition, Point Park went 0-for-10 from 3-point range in the second half — six of those misses came in the third quarter.

“We couldn’t hit the three,” said Pioneers guard Alexa Xenakis. “It felt like we were 2-for-30 from the 3-point line.”

In the final six minutes of the game, the RedStorm went on a 19-6 run to secure the victory.

Losing Momentum

In a post-game interview, Grenek pointed out that the Pioneers have lost several games this season in which they possessed a double-digit lead.

“It’s the same thing every game,” Grenek said. “You can write it down on paper. We’re probably gonna have a 10-point lead, and then we’re gonna squander it away.”

In five of Point Park’s nine losses this season, they obtained a lead of 10 or more points — the first of those five instances was against Bluefield (Va.) in the season opener.

“Our performance tonight really hasn’t been different from many other games this season,” Grenek said.

Pioneers forward Leah Hurst said that her team tends to become discouraged when it faces adversity and goes on stretches with very little offensive production, which is what happened in the second quarter against Rio Grande and continued through the second half.

“Whenever we get down on ourselves, we have the tendency to pack it in and not continue to play our hardest,” said Hurst. “Once something bad happens in a game or something doesn’t go our way, we completely shut down. It’s like a light switch.”

Unable to persevere 

The Pioneers were out-rebounded 48-24 versus Rio Grande, and they turned the ball over nine times. Grenek characterizes that play as careless, which is why he does not believe his team is capable of greatness.

“I don’t think we have the heart to succeed, to be honest with you,” Grenek said. “They’re a great bunch of kids. They’re nice. But they don’t want to be successful. They’re happy with the status quo, and it’s been frustrating. It’s been this way all season long.”

Hurst does not necessarily believe that the team does not have heart, but she admitted that the team is in a state of vexation.

“It is really hard whenever you lose the courage within yourself,” Hurst said. “It’s to the point where we’re in a funk right now.”

Up Next

The Pioneers play Midway University at home on Feb. 11.

photo courtesy of Liz Berie, Point Park Athletics
Senior guard Alexa Xenakis rushes to the net during a 75-57 home loss against Rio Grande on Feb. 6 at CCAC South.