Croup’s Corner – Women’s basketball carries RSC winning streak into 2018

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

Tuesdays are the worst. Well, at least for the Globe.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams host arguably their toughest opponents Tuesday night when Indiana University East comes to town.

We put the print edition of the Globe together on Monday nights and the paper is delivered in print on Wednesday morning. If something happens on Monday night, we can at least get scores and a brief summary in print. If something is scheduled for a Tuesday, it’s almost useless in print the next week.

Thankfully there is the internet these days, but it still makes things tricky for our print edition.

I bring this up because this column is focusing on the hot streak the women’s basketball team is on in conference play entering Tuesday. By the time you read this on Wednesday or later, that streak could be cold.

IU East ended last week as the No. 12 team in the country with a loaded schedule that featured a plethora of top-25 opponents. Its schedule also featured a pair of losses against Rio Grande and West Virginia, teams that also defeated the Pioneers in early season games they wish they could have back.

The Red Wolves are a tough test for the Pioneers, who enter the game on a four-game River States Conference (RSC) winning streak.

Point Park’s winning streak featured two road wins, including an 80-55 shutdown of Indiana University Kokomo, which was receiving votes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) top 25 at the time. The Pioneers’ streak was stretched to four last Thursday with a five-point road win at Midway.

The Pioneers haven’t lost in conference play since the pair of aforementioned losses against Rio Grande and West Virginia Tech.

It’s been a team effort, too. Head coach Tony Grenek has fielded 10 different starters over the course of the last four conference games with 14 players seeing playing time.

Point Park’s defense held teams to 37.9 percent shooting during the streak, allowing 56, 55, 58 and 62 points in the four games. Point Park’s field goal percentage defense in conference play ranks third among all RSC teams behind Rio Grande and Midway.

The Pioneers are now 6-0 when holding opponents under 60 points and hold a 9-1 record when holding teams under 70. Their lone loss came at a buzzer beater in a 68-66 non-conference loss against the University of the Cumberlands in the final game of 2017.

Grenek’s teams have a reputation of posting strong defensive efforts. Those strong defensive games were largely missing last year due in part to a short bench caused by injuries and to the team’s schedule which frequently featured back-to-back game days.

On the offensive end, the Pioneers have had six different players record double-digit games on the scoreboard in the last four conference games.

This is a deep and balanced team that very well could upset IU East Tuesday night if its defense holds up against the eighth-ranked scoring offense in the nation. The Red Wolves also field one of the nation’s top players in Tia King, the 2016-17 RSC Player of the Year who is averaging over 20 points per game.

Point Park’s balanced and aggressive attack will have to show up Tuesday night, but regardless of the outcome, the team has showed several positive signs over the last four conference games leading up to this week.