Men’s Basketball celebrates senior day with finalization of second seed in east division

Guards Sherron Schifino and Cyrie Coates honored before final home game

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team (21-6, 12-4 RSC) came away with a split decision between their two games after they fell to the University of Rio Grande (21-5, 14-1 RSC) before they defeated cross-city rival Carlow University (1-26, 0-16 RSC). The loss to Rio Grande secures the Pioneers spot as the two seed in the East division for the River States Conference playoffs. Point Park has one more regular season game this season, before they play in the RSC quarterfinals. 

Game one was a must win road game for the Pioneers as they faced off against Rio Grande, the current holder of first place in the East division of the RSC. The Pioneers came out cold to start the first half as Rio Grande scored the first 10 points  before sophomore guard Nate Van found a lay up at the 15 minute mark to start the scoring. The Red Storm continued to hum along through the first half, going up by as much as 18 as the Pioneers struggled to find buckets and ended the first half down 43-28. 

The offense heated up in the second half as Point Park brought the game within six points with 10 minutes remaining in the second half. The Red Storm continued to keep the lead but PPU closed the gap to a two point deficit with five minutes remaining after a layup from junior guard Jalen Stamps.

 Rio Grande strung together a handful of baskets immediately after to keep the Pioneers at arm’s length just enough into the final buzzer, which ultimately ended the Pioneers chance at the number one seed. Point Park was outscored 75-69.

Stamps continued to stay hot against the Red Storm and put up a game high 34 points and nine rebounds — just one rebound shy of a double-double. Sophomore forward Jo Valrie followed up with 15 points and seven rebounds, while collecting one steal and a block. As a whole, PPU was sub-par from the field, and only hit 24-of-69 (35 percent) of their shots and only made 6-of-23 (26 percent) from three.

Rio Grande shot a solid 27-of-60 (45 percent) overall and knocked down 5-13 (38 percent) of their shots from beyond the arc. The Pioneers continued to out rebound the opposition and ripped down 47 rebounds compared to the Red Storms 37, including 20 offensive boards to the home team’s eight. 

Game two saw the green and gold return home for senior day in a bout against the cross-city and RSC rival Carlow Celtics. Senior guards Cyrie Coates and Sherron Schifino — who moved into tenth all time for Point Park in scoring with 1,300 points — received their plaques and were recognized pregame for their accomplishments with the program. 

As the game got under way, the Pioneers laid no mercy on the visitors and went on a 24-8 run in the first nine minutes of the contest, and Point Park swallowed up the competition on both sides of the ball. The offense and defense continued to roll in the first half and the Pioneers grabbed a 21 point advantage with five minutes remaining. The difference only grew between the two sides as PPU jumped out to a 30 point lead before the first half buzzer sounded and Point Park stood on top at 50-22. 

Although the Pioneers reached into the bench for much of the second half, the offensive and defensive might continued to shine and the Pioneers kept their onslaught going against the last placed Celtics. The lead extended out to 50 with five minutes remaining after a layup from sophomore forward Jordan Stowe. The final buzzer sounded with the final score at 97-48, a dominant showing from the home team. 

Stamps once again led the Pioneers in scoring, and netted 18 points and five assists in the victory. Valrie only needed 19 minutes to score 16 points and snatched four rebounds. Van and junior forward Malcolm Murphy collected their first double-doubles of the season as Van put up 13 points and 10 rebounds alongside five assists, one block and a steal in an all around effort. 

Murphy grabbed 10 of his own boards to pair with his 11 points. Sophomore center Jags Jhwar picked up yet another double-double to his name with 10 points and 13 rebounds as he continued his commanding presence in the paint. 

Point Park shot an outstanding 39-of-78 (50 percent) from the floor and nailed 10-of-30 (33 percent) of their shots from downtown. The Celtics mustered together 17-of-70 (24 percent) shots overall and hit 3-of-13 (23 percent) three’s in the contest. The Pioneers more than doubled Carlow’s rebounding numbers and pulled down 69 rebounds to the Celtics’ 30, which included 51 defensive boards to Carlow’s 22. 

The final game of the regular season will be a road matchup against Ohio Christian University (10-14, RSC 6-9) on Saturday, February 18. 

The RSC playoff match up information will be released shortly after, including opponent and location. More information on the schedule ahead can be found on the Point Park Athletics webpage, as well as ways to stream the games.