Women’s playoff push ends in OT

Pioneers fall to Alice Lloyd in RSC Tourney first round

Photo by Briana Walton | Point Park Athletics
Junior guard Kaitlin Smith averaged 7.7 points per game this season and went 3-for-9 (6 points) in Point Park’s premiere playoff loss at Alice Lloyd. The Pioneers finished the year 17-11 and 12-5 in the RSC.

Written By Allison Schubert, Co-Features Editor

When the women’s basketball team last traveled to Pippa Passes, Kentucky in late January, it was trailing by 17 points to Alice Lloyd College in the first quarter.

The Pioneers battled back to take a 80-73 win against the top team in the River States Conference (RSC) West Division.

Point Park traveled back to Pippa Passes on Wed., Feb. 21 for the quarterfinal round of the RSC Tournament against the same Eagles team it beat in January.

This time, the Pioneers were the ones with an early lead, taking a 23-17 advantage after the first quarter.

“It’s playoff energy and the crowd was screaming,” senior captain Shaniya Rivers said. “We just tried to keep our emotions in check.”

The remaining 30 minutes of play was balanced on both ends of the court, as both halves ended in ties and the third quarter ended with Alice Lloyd only leading by one.

At the end of the first half, both teams had tallied 38 points.

“We tried to adjust our defense just to throw them off a little, but to their credit, they just made some tough shots,” freshman guard Michelle Burns said.

Throughout the final 20 minutes of play, the Eagles and Pioneers scored 40 points each, ending regulation tied at 78.

“I think our biggest struggle was not converting offensively,” junior forward Sam Weir said. “We left a lot out there. We had plenty of opportunities to be up.”

The game and Point Park’s season came down to a five-minute overtime.

Alice Lloyd’s freshman guard Hayley Hall had already scored 21 points for the Eagles, but it was her ten-point contribution in the extra frame that pushed them into the semifinals.

Point Park was not getting shots to fall in the additional time, shooting 22 percent while getting outscored 16-7, resulting in the 94-85 loss.

“I think we ended on a good note,” senior guard Maryssa Agurs said. “We really came together and beat talented teams. I am proud of my teammates and happy to have played with them.”

Burns led the Pioneers in scoring with 25 points and went 5-for-7 from long range. Weir followed closely behind with 19 points and Agurs added 16 points.

Alice Lloyd had four players with double-doubles on the night, leading to an edge over Point Park in the stat book. The Eagles outshot the Pioneers 43-percent to 38-percent and out-rebounded Point Park 62-37.

Alice Lloyd moved on to defeat Indiana University (IU) East in the semifinals to advance to the RSC Championship, where it lost to Rio Grande. All three teams will move on to the national tournament.

Point Park finished the season 17-11 overall, 12-5 in RSC play and 10-4 in 2018.

“I thought this season was a great first year,” Burns said. “I thought my game both physically and mentally has improved and I plan to keep growing for next year. Also, I got a good sense of the time and effort it takes to make it far and I think that was the greatest takeaway of this season.”

Three players from the Pioneers were named to All-RSC teams following the conclusion of the season. Weir made the first team, and Burns and Agurs made the second team.

Weir averaged 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Her block average was the highest in the RSC and was ranked sixth in the nation.

“It was awesome to get first team all-conference,” Weir said. “It honestly caught me by surprise because it just personally wasn’t the season I wanted, but I’m very honored for the recognition from all the RSC coaches.”

Burns finished the season with a 36 percent shooting average from beyond the arc and totaled 350 points, 93 assists, 43 steals and 57 total treys, which is ranked among the highest by a Point Park freshman in program history.

Agurs shot 42-percent overall in her final season as a Pioneer, and rounded out the trio of all-conference players with 12.8 points per game, giving Point Park three of the top 20 scorers in the RSC.

“It’s an honor and I’m so appreciative of those who voted for me,” Agurs said.

In addition to the all-conference nods, Rivers was named to the RSC Champions of Character Team.

Rivers ended her career at Point Park with 404 points, 379 rebounds, 152 assists and 151 steals.

“This was one of my favorite teams to play on at Point Park,” Rivers said. “Communication was one of the ways our team started to win more games throughout the season. Coach Grenek took in all our ideas and continued to adjust the team. I’m grateful to have played on this team and I continued to learn from teammates and coaches from the beginning of the season to the end.”