Pioneers lose back-to-back River States Conference match-ups as playoffs approach

Rinn becomes first female athlete to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds

Junior Guard Ari Bleda (center) goes for the opening tip off against WVU Tech.

Photo by Joey Bova

Junior Guard Ari Bleda (center) goes for the opening tip off against WVU Tech.

Written By Kayla Sterner, Co-Sports Editor

Senior forward Taylor Rinn snagged a rebound within four minutes of the first quarter against River States Conference foe WVU Tech (15-9, 8-5 RSC)  to become the first female athlete at Point Park to surpass 1,000 rebounds. The Akron, OH native had 1,019 career rebounds and 1,210 points following the Pioneers (8-13, 5-8 RSC) 90-85 loss on Thursday night.

Rinn was just shy of a double-double with nine points and 20 rebounds. Junior guard Ari Bleda led all scorers with a career high 32 points and snagged nine boards on top of three steals and two blocks. Sophomore guard Emma Pavalek added 21 points and seven rebounds. 

“Obviously, I’m ecstatic I got over 1,000 rebounds, which was my goal for this game,” Rinn said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more than to win the game… Down the line, our defense really killed us and they (WVU Tech) got a couple of second chance shots that we just can’t allow.”

The Pioneers have lost a lot of games this season due to missed shots and constant turnovers, two trends they need to fix if they hope to make a run in the playoffs. PPU was 33-of-82 from the field and only 8-of-27 from behind the arc against the Golden Bears. Point Park out boarded WVU Tech 49-44 but turned the ball over 17 times and committed 21 personal fouls, which led to Pavalek and freshman guard Alexis Giles being disqualified.

A layup courtesy of Pavalek placed the Pioneers on the board first which turned into a 9-3 run capped by a jump shot from Bleda with 6:04 left in the first quarter. The Golden Bears went on a 11-5 run to tie the game at 14 apiece with 2:20 to play. The Pioneers netted seven points to lead 21-18 at the end of the period.

The second quarter opened up with another layup from Pavalek. A series of missed shots from PPU allowed WVU Tech to cut the deficit and ultimately take the lead over the Pioneers (30-29) with 4:46 to play before the half. The Golden Bears held on to the advantage and led 35-30 at the break.

WVU Tech jumped out to a 10 points advantage (42-32) to start the third quarter. Point Park answered with a 15-5 run to tie the game up at 47 apiece with 5:31 left in the quarter. A triple from Pavalek followed by two more three’s from Giles allowed the Pioneers to clutch a 59-55 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

 Point Park held on to the lead for 4:42 in the quarter before the Golden Bears tied the game up again at 69 points apiece. The Pioneers led 73-72 with 3:50 to play before WVU Tech took a 76-73 advantage and held on to edge out the home team 90-85.

The Pioneers lost another close game against Alice Lloyd College (16-6, 9-5 RSC). The 56-51 defeat marks PPU’s ninth loss against RSC opponents. 

Giles, who doesn’t usually get the opportunity to start, led all scorers with 19 points as a first-string. Senior guard Sierra Senata netted 10 points and snagged four boards while Bleda added nine points and 11 rebounds. 

Pavalek had two steals, two assists and six points in the winning effort. Rinn was held to two points and one steal, but she snagged 21 boards to extend her rebound record to 1,040. 

Senata nailed a three pointer after a steal from Pavalek to place the Pioneers on the board. Senata drilled another triple with 6:46 left in the first quarter to take an 8-4 lead.

Giles added a triple, followed by a jumper from Bleda and a layup from Pavalek gave Point Park a 15-8 advantage. Rinn made a layup, her only bucket of the night, and the Pioneers led 17-14 heading into the second quarter.

Alice Lloyd College held Point Park to only five points in the second quarter but scored 15 of their own. The lead changed three times in the 10 minute span but the Eagles held on and PPU trailed 29-22 at the break. 

Bleda made a jumper and tied the game up again at 31 apiece with 8:17 to go in the third. Alice Lloyd College quickly responded with back-to-back jumpers to lead 35-31 which manifested into a 39-38 advantage at the end of the quarter for the visitors. 

The Eagles opened up the fourth quarter with a series of layups and jumpers courtesy of Bailee Brainard to take a 47-43 lead. Pavalek netted a layup to cut the deficit to two, but Alice Lloyd College extended their lead to seven (53-36) with 3:40 left in the game.

The contest was in reach for the Pioneers, but they couldn’t clutch an advantage when they needed to. Giles hit a triple to trail 53-50 followed by a free throw from Bleda with nine seconds left to make the score 53-51. 

Fouls from Coral Homs and Bleda sent the Eagles to the charity stripe, which gave the visitors a 56-51 win. 

The Pioneers snagged 44 boards compared to the Eagles 39 but only have five bench points and four second chance points. Both teams had 12 turnovers.

Point Park shot an alarming 18-of-61 from the field and only made 6-of-31 attempts from downtown. With the playoffs quickly approaching, the Pioneers are going to need to figure out how to minimize turnovers and find the hoop.

PPU’s next game is against University of Rio Grande in Ohio on Feb. 7. Their final home game of the season, and also “Senior Day,” is Feb. 11. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.