Men’s basketball start early season schedule undefeated with wins over Concordia, Penn State-Greater Allegheny

New head coach Kevin Reynolds leads Pioneers to best start since 2007-08 season

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team started their 2022-2023 season this month, winning all three of their matchups to start off the year and jump to 3-0. The team defeated Penn-State Greater Allegheny 78-66 on Tuesday, November 1, before defeating Concordia University back to back nights on Friday, November 4, and Saturday, November 5, 76-72 and 56-43 respectively. The 3-0 start is the best start to a season for the Pioneers since their 2007-2008 season, where the team went 14-12 including a playoff berth. 

“I would say being confident and going into the games with a winning mentality has gotten us to a hot start,” sophomore guard Nate Van said. “With the time spent in the gym with all the guys and coaches, we became a close knit group that has gotten us ready. With this start, we feel like we can compete with anyone.”

Game one was a group effort of the starting rotation for the Pioneers, even with the short bench that they brought with them to take on the Nittany Lions. On the road to start the season, Point Park jumped out to a dominant lead to start the game, putting up 13 straight points before Penn State could respond. The Nittany Lions continued to try and keep the game close, bringing the deficit to only four points before the Pioneers would end the first half with a 12 point lead at 42-30. The second half saw the Pioneers hold on to their double digit lead for the rest of the contest, with both sides trading baskets, but never allowing the Nittany Lions to get a streak going. The back and forth scoring allowed Point Park to stay ahead till the final buzzer, the score standing at 78-66 as the final. 

Junior guard Jalen Stamps, a transfer from Quincy University, led the team in terms of scoring and assists, with 19 and five in the win. Sophomore forward Jo Valrie, another transfer National Park College, recorded a double-double in the contest, putting up 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while nailing all three of his three point attempts. Senior guards Sherron Schifino and Cyrie Coates would both put up double digit points as well, with 17 and 12 respectively. The Pioneers heavily out shot and out rebounded the Nittany Lions in the match, hitting on 47 percent of their shots and 56 percent from three, in comparison to Penn State’s 41 percent and measly 22 percent from three. The Pioneers also snatched 39 rebounds compared to the Nittany Lions 19. 

Game two was a closely contested home affair at CCAC-Allegheny against the Concordia Cardinals, with Concordia hitting a three to start a back and forth lead between the two sides all the way up to the final seven minutes of the first half. Point Park would take a one point lead, and battle to hold onto it until the final two minutes of the first half, where Concordia was able to take a one point lead before Point Park was able to tie the game at 37-37 prior to the buzzer sounding for the first half. The Pioneers would come out firing to start the second half however, jumping out to a 12 point lead only six minutes into the second half with a 12-2 run. The Cardinals continued to try and fight back, but a strong defensive showing by the Pioneers, as well as foul trouble for the visiting squad, helped keep Point Park in the driver’s seat until the final buzzer sounded, the final score standing at 76-72. 

Schifino showed off his scoring prowess in the contest, putting up 23 points while dishing out a team high three assists in the win. Valrie also put up 18 points while shooting 50 percent from the field, while Coates scored 13 to pair with his game high two steals. The Pioneers and Cardinals would put up similar team stat lines as well, with Point Park shooting 48 percent from the field, while Concordia would hit on 47 percent. PPU would also edge out the visiting squad in the rebound department, bringing down 34 boards to the Cardinals’ 30. 

Game three was the second match up between Cardinals and the Pioneers, with a low scoring affair on the agenda for the two sides. The first 10 minutes of the first half was a back and forth affair once again, until Point Park was able to snatch away a lead that was constantly being threatened by the Cardinals. Sitting at a measly 28-24 score at the end of the first half, the second half was a dry spell for shooting on either side. With the two sides shooting a combined 28 percent from the floor, Point Park was able to jump out to the first double digit lead of the game with 12 minutes remaining. Concordia continued to fight and claw back, but the Pioneers would shut them down permanently with four minutes remaining, once again jumping out to a double digit lead that they would hold onto until the clock hit zeros, with 56-43 being the final. 

Stamps would lead the way in scoring for the Pioneers once again, putting up 24 points while ripping away two steals in the low scoring affair. Valrie would put up his second double-double in three games, scoring 17 while pulling down 10 rebounds and pulling away two steals of his own. Point Park hit a decent 41 percent of their shots in the contest, knocking down 30 percent of their shots from downtown, which heavily out favored the dreadful 28 percent shot by the Cardinals, with a miserable 27 percent from deep. 

The team will look this Saturday, November 12 for their next match up, traveling to Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State-Schuylkill in another non conference matchup. The team’s first River State Conference (RSC) match up will come next Thursday, November 17, as they travel to Pippa Passes, Kentucky to take on Alice Llyod College, and will continue their road trip with a visit to WVU Tech on Saturday, November 19. 

“The expectations I have for myself is to get everyone better and to push all my teammates,” Van said. “In terms of the team as a whole, (our goal) is to win the RSC conference and to go to Kansas.” 

All schedule and streaming details are available on the Point Park athletics website.