Men’s basketball finishes regular season with a win, draws first round bye

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

Point Park’s Men’s Basketball team finished their regular season last week, defeating the WVU Tech Golden Bears on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 77-58 at home. The next day, the River State Conference (RSC) did its playoff seeding draw, where the Pioneers would pull a first-round bye and the technically first seed in this year’s RSC playoffs. The Pioneers will face off against the winner of Asbury University versus Ohio Christian University. The game will be played on Wednesday, Feb. 24, but the time and location have yet to be announced. 

The Pioneers had just played WVU Tech on the road the week before, falling to the Golden Bears 67-87 in a match that many of the players wanted to forget. The team would leave the past game in the dust, as well as their opponents, scoring the first six points of the game and coming out to a commanding 19-4 lead in the first five minutes of the first half. 

The Golden Bears would try to make the game competitive in the first half, bringing the Pioneer lead within five at one point, but the boys were not letting this game leave their grasp. The first half would end with the Pioneers leading 45-23, and the second half was much of the same. WVU Tech would never get within 15 points of the Pioneers’ lead, with Point Park leading by 20 or more for the majority of the second half. 

“After the loss (to WVU Tech before), I feel like the team came into the next game with a different attitude, and put together a big win,” sophomore guard Xavier Prince said. 

The Pioneers were excellent across the stat sheet, both individually and as a team. The Pioneers shot an outstanding 45% from the field and 30% from three and were able to keep the Golden Bears from developing any momentum, mostly thanks in part to only shooting 29% from the field and hitting a harsh 18% from beyond the arc. Point Park got the upperhand in rebounds this time against the Golden Bears, nabbing 41 boards; just one more than WVU Tech. 

The Pioneers also were able to create 17 steals and caused the Golden Bears to give up 26 turnovers, helping pave the way to victory. Four of the five starters for Point Park would score double-digit points, junior forward Tony James leading the way with a game-high 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Junior guards Jesse Calloway and Scherron Schifino would be right behind him, scoring 13 and 14, respectively, with Schifino leading the team in assists and Calloway leading in steals with five each. Senior Forward Garret McHenry would also put up 10 points in his senior day game, and sophomore guard Xavier Prince would also help out off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds as well. 

The RSC started the playoff seeding drawing on Wednesday, Feb. 17, when Point Park was selected as the number one seed from the ping pong balls that were used to select this year’s playoff standings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the RSC decided on a double-blind draw to determine this year’s playoffs spots, due in part to the fact that several teams had not been able to play due to outbreak in their teams or because some teams were not able to play because of state rules. Thanks to the luck of the draw, Point Park gets a much-needed break with their first-round bye and will be looking at the scoreboards to see who they will be facing off against next. 

“I feel like the bye will help us,” Prince said. “It’s always good to be able to save legs, especially when games are back to back.” 

To find out when and where Point Park will be competing, you can check out Point Park’s athletics website or the RSC’s official website, where all the playoff games will be streamed this year for fans to watch live.