Men’s Basketball goes 5-2 between semesters, stand at 8-6 on the year

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

While most students returned home or were enjoying their break from classes, the men’s basketball team had a busy schedule of games ahead of them during the months of December and January. After a forfeited win on December 11, the Pioneers would go on to win back-to-back River State Conference (RSC) games against Carlow University on Monday, December 13, and Ohio Christian University on Saturday, December 18. Point Park continued RSC play on Thursday, January 6 with a win against Brescia University and finally ended with a loss in overtime to Oakland City University on Saturday, January 8. The last two games occurred after a special trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands during New Years for a special basketball tournament, which the team went 1-1 in.

The Pioneers started off with back-to-back wins after a forfeited win from Ohio Valley University, winning 74-54 against the Carlow Celtics in a cross city rivalry, and 70-67 on the road against the Ohio Christian University Trailblazers. The Pioneers and Celtics kept it close for the first 10 minutes of the first half, before the Pioneers were able to break away late thanks to a string of five consecutive buckets for Point Park, giving them a 10 point lead at the half. It was a similar second half, with the two teams trading buckets before Point Park broke away again late in the second half to put them ahead by as many as 21 points before the end of the game. Statistically, the Celtics were right on par with the Pioneers, with Point Park nailing 40% of their shots compared to Carlow’s 39%. Point Park’s bench scoring would make the difference, with sophomore guard Nate Van leading in scoring with 12 and picking off 2 steals, and with freshman guard Shaathon Walker picking up 11 points on only 13 minutes played. Junior forward Jordan Stowe would also lead in scoring with 12, and senior forward Adam Scott ripped down 14 rebounds to lead the game.

Point Park would then squeak by Ohio Christian University on the road, 70-67, in a game where OCU led for the entire first half. After scoring the first bucket, the Trailblazers held onto the lead for the entirety of the first half but never got the lead out to further than seven as Point Park continued to claw back. Van scored 8 points in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the first half to bring the score to 32-33, and Point Park began its comeback. Both teams would exchange the lead multiple times throughout the second half, and with two minutes left, Point Park would regain a one point lead thanks to a shot by sophomore center Jagshaanbir Singh Jhawar, a lead they would not give up for the rest of the match to end it at 70-67. Point Park hit on 44% of their shots in the game, and knocked down an outstanding 50% from beyond the arc to help guide them to victory. Guard Sherron Schifino led the way in scoring with a strong 24 points, with Van right behind him with 18 and 7 boards. Jhawar would also play a big part with a team high 8 rebounds and game high 4 blocks, to go along with his 12 points.

The Pioneers would head south bound for their New Years this year, thanks to an invite to the U.S. Virgin Island Basketball Classic, a traditionally NCAA Division II and HBCU tournament. The Pioneers would play two games and spend five days on the Islands for training and team bonding. Point Park would also claim runner up after a loss to tournament winner Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) 61-48, and a win against Fisk University 71-60. Game one against ECSU was a harsh shooting game for the Pioneers, with the team only hitting on 35% of their shots in comparison to the Vikings’ 48%. ECSU jumped out to an early lead in the first half and would extend it by as much as 20 before halftime. The second half was much of the same, going ahead by as much as 27 before Point Park would bring it within 13 to end the game at 61-48. Schifino led the way in scoring with 24 while playing a full 40 minutes due to a limited roster for the Pioneers, and Stowe helped with 11 points and 8 assists.

Game two would be a better matchup for Point Park, taking on Fisk University who was also handedly defeated by ECSU. Even with a short bench again, the Pioneers would put up 32 and then 39 points between the two halves to keep them comfortably in the driver seat against the Bulldogs. Even with a late comeback in the middle of the second half, Point Park would be able to hold Fisk off just long enough to secure the win, thanks in part to Schifino’s 23 points and Stowe’s 15 points and 8 rebounds to help. The win helped the Pioneers clinch the second place spot in the tournament.

Point Park would then return home for more in-conference play with a road trip to Brescia to take on the Bearcats in a 69-60 victory. After a tied up first half at 36-36, Brescia would come out strong and lead by 52-45 halfway through the second half. Point Park mounted a monstrous comeback to end the game though, going on a 24-8 run that put them ahead over the Bearcats and secure another RSC victory. Schifino once again led the scoring with yet another 20-point effort, dropping 23, with Stowe once again right behind him with 15 again and four steals.

The final game before the start of the Spring semester would be a heartbreaker to Oakland City University on the road, falling 76-70 in overtime. The Mighty Oaks would stretch out a strong lead as the end of the first half came, leading by as much as 14 as they ended it with the score at 32-22. Point Park would mount yet another monstrous comeback though, coming back late in the second half after being down by 20, scoring 13 unanswered points and taking a two point lead with 23 seconds remaining. Sadly, OCU would make two foul shots with eight seconds remaining to tie the game up and send it to overtime. The Mighty Oaks scored first, and wouldn’t give up the lead until the final buzzer ended at 76-70. Van would lead the way in scoring with 19 points off the bench, while also picking up 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Junior guard Eddie Flohr and Schifino would be behind him with 14 each, and Flohr and Stowe would be tied in rebounds with 8 apiece.

The Pioneers will now approach the back end of their season, with a little over a month to go to their season. Point Park’s next game will be on Thursday, January 13 at home against Bryant & Stratton-Buffalo in a non-conference matchup. The home stand will continue with a match up against undefeated Alice Lloyd College on Saturday, January 15. The Pioneers currently sit at 8-6 on the season, and are 3-4 in RSC play. Their record currently sits them at fourth in the RSC East division, as the team will look to bounce back and try and rise up the board, being only a game out of second place and three-and-a-half games out of first in the division. All home games will be streamable through the Point Park Athletics website.