Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Women Basketball semi-finals heartbreak 

Photo by Antonio Bastolla
Aichata Ballo dribbling the ball against WVU Tech. She was the leading scorer for the women in the playoffs

The Pioneers women’s basketball team lost to Oakland City in the semi-finals of the River States Conference (RSC) tournament with a final score of 74-55. This would be the end of the ladies’ Pioneers season. 

The women had a long road trip for playoffs after their regular season finale against WVU Tech. The Pioneers would be given the six seed in the tournament, meaning they were almost guaranteed to not have a single home game in their playoff run. 

The Pioneers started their road trip with a seven hour bus ride to Saint Mary Woods College (SMWC) in Terre Haute, Indiana for their first game on Wednesday, February 28. The team arrived on that previous Tuesday night, ready to play.  

Graduate student and starting guard Gillian Piccolino said on the bus ride, “I am not driving here seven hours just to lose.” This would be the truth, as they went on to beat Saint Mary Woods College in their quarter-final matchup.  

The Pioneers started this game off well, forcing turnovers and going up 16-10 halfway through the first quarter. The Pomeroys would step on the gas and force four straight turnovers to take the lead 18-16 and put the Pioneers behind.  

In the second quarter, the Pomeroys would stay in front barely, as both teams would score 21-a-piece in the second quarter, for a final first half score of 39-37.  

Fatim Sarr-Ndow (Right) and Gabby Legister (Left) hugging after their final regular season win.

The second half would be all Point Park, as they would outscore SMWC 34-21 in the third quarter. Unstoppable scoring by backup guard, Aichata Ballo would lead the charge, with her school high 24 points.  

The fourth quarter was the same result, as Piccolino simply could not miss, and he would be the leading scorer with 25 points. This would all lead to a final score of 97-81 in favor of Point Park.  

SMWC Athletic Director Kevin Lanke said, “I talked to the head coach, and this was the one team he did not play after being given the three seed, we knew how good Point Park is.” The Pioneers were the six seed, and the Pomeroys were the three seed, meaning that on paper SMWC was the favorite, but Point Park outmatched them for the second year in a row and the second time this season.  

The Pioneers would then head over to Gibson County, Indiana to play the two seed Oakland City Mighty Oaks in the semi-finals matchup on Saturday, March 2. These two teams matched up previously in the season, and the Mighty Oaks took that game 72-66.  

Pioneers head coach Dave Scarborough said, “We know we can beat this team, we just can’t play scared and we can’t rush.” Scarborough mentioned on plenty of occasions what his game plan was during film. He knew what Oakland City was going to do, and how the Pioneers knew what they had to do.  

Sharing her feelings about the team’s matchup against the Mighty Oaks, starting junior guard Emma Pavelek said, “I’m nervous, but I know we can do this.” 

Mighty Oaks dominated in the first quarter, as they started with a 10 to one lead early in the first quarter. The Pioneers would manage to get a couple field goals late in the quarter to lower the deficit, but Oakland City would still end the first quarter with a 21 to nine lead.  

The Pioneers were in need of a comeback. As Scarborough mentioned, “This is a team that will capitalize on your mistakes.” He was referring to the Mighty Oaks team in respect to their skill sets. However, the Pioneers still could not get going this quarter. Though they would only get outscored by one point in the quarter, they were still down at halftime 38-25.  

The third quarter had a small spark in the beginning, as some quick stops and scores would bring the deficit down to six. Afterwards, the Mighty Oaks took over yet again and destroyed any chance of the scores getting close again. Oakland City would go on to outscore Point Park by three in the quarter, and the lead increased to 16 by the end of the third quarter.  

In desperation and hope to continue the run, the Pioneers attempted to give it their all in the late stages of the matchup and season. This, however, would not matter. The powerhouse aggression of the Mighty Oaks did not let up and they would eventually win this matchup 74-55. This ended the Lady Pioneers’ season. 

In response to the tough loss, Coach Scarborough said, “We will be back next year, this isn’t the ending we wanted, but I will make sure we are back.” The Mighty Oaks now are one game away from a RSC championship and have secured their spot in the national tournament.  

The Pioneers finished the season with 19 wins and nine losses. They lost in the semi-finals of the RSC tournament, placing them as a top-four team in the conference. With two starters, Gillian Piccolino and Gabby Legister, graduating, Coach Scarborough will look to make changes. “I will do a heck of a job scouting, I can promise that,”  he said.

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