Women hit road for RSC tournament

Close out regular season as No. 4 team in RSC East


Photo by Briana Walton | Point Park Athletics

Senior forward Baylee Buleca shoots a layup last week at Carlow. She is second on the team with 7.2 rebounds per game entering the playoffs.

Written By Allison Schubert, Co-Feature Editor

The women’s basketball team looks to defeat top-seeded Alice Lloyd from the West Division for the second time this season Wednesday night in the first round of the River States Conference (RSC) playoffs.

“I would’ve rather not had to go to Alice Lloyd,” head coach Tony Grenek said in his office. “I think my team is playing it’s best basketball right now and I’d hate for that to end after that first game since we’ve been playing so well. By the same token, I think that when we’re on and we’re fresh and we’re mentally into it, we can compete with anybody.”

Point Park, which claimed the fourth-and-final spot in the RSC tournament from the East Division, is one of three teams with wins over the Eagles in conference play this season. The other two are Rio Grande and Indiana University (IU) East, both from the East Division.

“[Alice Lloyd] is a very hard place to play because it is a very small town and it seems that there is a bit of favoritism coming from the refs, but we know that we’re more talented and when we’re able to press them, it kills them,” junior guard Kaitlyn Smith said in the student center on Monday. “They can really shoot, but when we pressed them in the past, they really struggled with that. So we’re going to come out, guns blazing, and we’re not holding anything back.”

Alice Lloyd enters the week 15-3 in conference play, riding a seven game losing streak. The Eagles’ last loss came on their home floor against Point Park on Jan. 27.

The Pioneers started last week in third place as they approached a heavy travel schedule of three away games in the span of five days.

“It was challenging, but like coach always says, if you go to this school, you have to be prepared for that,” senior forward Baylee Buleca said. “Since my freshman year, we’ve gone through traveling like that. It was usual for us, but for the new kids like the freshmen, transfers, I’m sure it was difficult.”

They first traveled to Rio Grande, which is ranked 21st in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II Top 25 Poll, for a rematch of the conference opener that the RedStorm won in Pittsburgh last November.

The Pioneers dressed 15 players in the Tuesday night game, and all 15 saw minutes in each half. 14 of those players were able to score, and two reached double figures.

Junior forward Sam Weir tallied 13 points and eight rebounds against the RedStorm and senior guard Maryssa Agurs led Point Park with 19 points.

Point Park stayed neck-and-neck with the RedStorm for the entirety of the game, and forced 25 turnovers on the night, 14 of those coming in the first half.

“Coming into Rio, I don’t know how much they expected from us, but we knew if we played the way we were capable of playing, we were definitely going to be able to get the win,” Smith said.

The Pioneers turned it on in the final quarter and started getting shots to fall, shooting 40-percent on the game. Point Park also held the RedStorm to just 16 points in the final ten minutes.

Agurs scored a second-chance basket inside the final minute to tie the game at 86. She then scored the eventual game-winner with 9.3 seconds remaining and helped seal an 89-86 win.

The momentum carried into Thursday night when Point Park then traveled to Ohio Christian University (OCU) for the penultimate game of the season.

Grenek rested seniors Weir, Agurs, Buleca, Shaniya Rivers and Nikki Corcoran against the Trailblazers.

“We could only play for third place at that time, so we needed to win two of three games that week. The one game we had to win had to be at WVU Tech,” Grenek said. “A lot of my seniors have some aches and pains, so I let them just rest their bodies for extra time that day.”

Photo by Briana Walton | Point Park Athletics
Senior guard Maryssa Agurs averaged 12 points per game in three road games last week. She is second on the team in scoring this season, averaging 12.67 points per game entering the conference tournament.

Point Park was down 51-49 after three quarters, but outscored OCU 19-14 in the final ten minutes to pull out the 68-65 win, extending the Pioneers’ winning streak for four games.

Smith led Point Park in scoring with a career-high 19 points, and sophomore guard Tyra James went five-for-five beyond the arc to tie her season-high in scoring with 15 points.

The Pioneers had season-bests in both overall shooting percentage (48-percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (50 percent), making 7 of 14 treys.

After the offensive showing in Circleville, Ohio, the Pioneers had just one game left that would ultimately decide their seeding in the playoffs.

If they won, the Pioneers would clinch the third-place spot in the East Division standings, but if they lost, they would fall to fourth place.

It was the final regular season game for both teams, but Point Park was unable to produce the final win that would have solidified that third-place finish.

“We had too many turnovers that we should not have had and we let them out-rebound us,” Smith said. “That was definitely a huge factor in our loss. Overall, they just played really well, I swear they didn’t miss a shot. Overall, we didn’t execute our game plan as well as we should have.”

Point Park had a 12-11 lead after four minutes, but after that, it would not see a lead for the remainder of the game.

The Golden Bears outscored Point Park in the first ten minutes 34-24, but the Pioneers held WVU Tech to 22 points in the second quarter, and went to the locker room down 56-48.

Both teams kept constant in the third quarter, with the Golden Bears only outscoring the Pioneers by one in those ten minutes.

Point Park was able to come within nine points with eight minutes remaining in the game, but WVU Tech’s lead was in double-digits from that point on.

The Golden Bears also out-rebounded the Pioneers 62-33, leading to a 108-93 win.

“There was actually a middle school tournament before we played, so we had to wait around a lot,” Buleca said. “The refs really weren’t that good either. We got a few calls that should’ve went our way that went in theirs. They were honestly hitting every shot they took. I think we put up a good fight for the circumstances that we had.”

The Pioneers finished with three players in double-digits. Freshman guard Michelle Burns contributed a team-high 18 points, senior captain Shaniya Rivers was one rebound away from a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, and senior guard Angelina Starr went four-for-six from long range, totaling 12 points on the night.

Point Park tallied a season-high 17 made 3-pointers, and was one off a season high in 3-point attempts with 42. The only game higher was at Carlow on Feb. 6, when the team had 43 attempted 3-pointers.

The Pioneers travel to Alice Lloyd College for the RSC Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday night. If they win, they will play the winner of the IU East and Midway. IU East is one of only two teams that has swept Point Park this season, along with WVU Tech.