Croup’s Corner – Best against the West

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist


It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Coming out undefeated at the end of any schedule is gratifying, but this form of undefeated could have a ripple effect that extends into the postseason for several reasons.

Last weekend saw the women’s basketball team finish a perfect season against the River States Conference (RSC) West Division with a pair of road victories.

The Pioneers cruised to their sixth-straight win against West opponents last Thursday with a 90-51 win at Asbury and handed the Eagles their sixth-straight loss.

The finale of the seven-game West Division schedule was the opposite of the Asbury game against division-leader Alice Lloyd College.

The Eagles of Alice Lloyd entered the game 9-2 in conference play with an 8-1 home record. They also jumped out to a 10-point lead at the half and it looked like Point Park was on the verge of seeing its undefeated stretch against the west come to an end.

But the Pioneers stormed back in the second half as they have done so many times this season, outscoring the Eagles 46-29 in the final 20 minutes. Point Park trailed by one heading into the final frame and stormed off to a 20-12 fourth-quarter run to seal the deal on its perfect season against the West Division.

Three of Point Park’s seven wins against the West came on the road and two of them featured fourth quarter comebacks.

The Pioneers’ second game of 2018 was at Midway from the West division. Midway led by four going into the fourth quarter, but Point Park closed the game with a 17-8 run in the final frame to leave Kentucky with a five-point win.

Point Park’s win against Alice Lloyd Saturday put an exclamation mark on a great run against the West this year for its seventh win against cross-division opponents.

The Pioneers posted their best-ever record in cross-division play since the conference split up into the East and West divisions four years ago.

Point Park went 4-2 in its first year against the West Division and finished the season 11-3 overall in conference play in 2014-15. The Pioneers posted a 5-2 record against the West two years ago and went 4-3 against the division last year.

When the RSC Tournament rolls around, Point Park should feel confident with its 7-0 record against the West. The quarterfinal matchups in the RSC Tournament pin the East against the West Division, meaning Point Park could potentially face strictly West Division opponents in the postseason to earn the RSC crown. That scenario, however, is unlikely.

The East Division is by far the better and the deeper of the two, featuring Rio Grande and Indiana University East above Point Park in the standings. Rio Grande enters this week undefeated in RSC play and with one loss all season that came in the third game of its schedule.

IU East, with one of the conference’s top guards in senior Tia King, has already proved that it is capable of rolling over any opponent, including Point Park. The Red Wolves handed the Pioneers their only loss of 2018 at the beginning of the month in a 96-78 showing in Pittsburgh. IU East hosts Point Park Tuesday night.

Rio Grande only escaped Pittsburgh with a two-point win in both teams’ RSC opener back in November. The two will have a rematch on Feb. 13.

The RSC championship could likely feature two teams from the East Division, including Point Park. But the Pioneers have taken care of business against the West Division already this year, posting a win against each team in the group.

Now, Point Park has to turn its focus to its own division with its remaining six contests coming against the East. The Pioneers can do so with the confidence that no matter where they fall in the standings at the end of the season in the East, they have the ability to take down at least their first opponent in the postseason – but that first game has to be their sole focus.

Point Park has been bounced from the playoffs by a West Division team the last two times they made the RSC Tournament.