Men’s Basketball win back-to-back on the road

Hold onto second place with five games remaining

Written By Mason Strawn, Co-Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team (18-5, 9-3 RSC) returned to their winning ways to end their road trip to Indiana with victories over St. Mary’s-of-the-Woods College (7-17) and Indiana University-Kokomo (16-6). 

Game one saw the Pioneers dominate the hosting Pomeroy’s, who are the last placed RSC west division team. SMWC jumped on Point Park early and hit the first bucket of the contest to keep the first seven minutes of the contest within four points. The Pioneers responded quickly and bounced back with a 26-10 run over a 10 minute span and ended the first half with a 19 point advantage at 43-24.

Point Park continued their domination on both ends of the court in the second half, and jumped out to a 31 point advantage (73-42) with eight minutes remaining in the second half. The Pomeroy’s attempted to minimize the damage in the final 10 minutes of play but the distance was too great and the Pioneers walked away victorious, 85-62. 

Sophomore forward Jo Valrie continued his stellar season and put up 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks in an all around effort. Junior guard Jalen Stamps, an Indiana native, followed up with 22 points, nine rebounds and a game high five assists. The Pioneers allowed only one SMWC player to score double digit points in the contest. 

The Pioneers shot 35-of-66 from the field and knocked down 7-of-16 of their three’s. In comparison, the Pomeroy’s shot 28-of-72 from the field and 3-of-15 from beyond the arc in yet another defensive showing by the boys in green. Point Park collected 43 rebounds compared to SMWC’s 34. 

Game two saw the Pioneers take on one of their toughest challenges of the new year as PPU faced the IU-Kokomo Cougars in Kokomo, IA. The Pioneers scored first before the Cougars quickly took possession of the lead. IU-Kokomo continued to hold the advantage for much of the first half, but Point Park kept the deficit to under eight.

The final seven and a half minutes of play proved to be the turning point for Point Park in the first half, as a massive 12-2 run in only four minutes turned a five point deficit into a four point lead with 4:14 remaining before the break. A buzzer beater three from senior guard Cyrie Coates extended the Pioneers’ lead to 41-37.

The second half was a continued battle, but PPU held onto the advantage. The Pioneers extended the lead to 10 multiple times in the second half, but their largest lead came in the final three minutes after a layup from Valrie gave them a 12 point lead. Point Park held down the Cougars and walked away with a hard fought 89-77 victory. 

Stamps led all scorers with 30 points, hit all 10 of his free throws and dished out three assists. Valrie put up 21 points of his own and shot 8-of-13 from the field. Coates netted 18 points while sophomore center Jags Jhwar ripped down 17 rebounds and swatted four blocks in a dominant effort in the paint. 

The Pioneers continued to shoot a solid clip from the field and knocked down 33-of-63 of their shots from the field and made 7-of-15 of their shots from downtown. The defense came out strong once again and kept the Cougars to 29-of-73 from the field and a mere 3-of-13 from deep. 

Blocks and rebounds were big once again in the match up as the Point Park brought down 48 boards in comparison to the Cougars’ 37 as the guys in green swatted six blocks in comparison to the Cougars one. 

The Pioneers are headed back home this week to take on  RSC rival WVU Tech on February 2. Point Park continues the week-long home stand with another RSC  match up against Alice Lloyd College on  February 4. With five games remaining on the season, the Pioneers take on the third and fourth placed teams in the East division. Both games will be streamed on the Point Park Athletics website, as well as future schedule updates.