All that separates the Point Park women’s basketball team from the end of the season is three games, but since the last article a lot has happened. Here is a glimpse on the latest occurrences:
1/9 PPU 59 Maine-Fort Kent 46
Despite sloppy play, the Pioneers were able to get this win – a needed win as it bridged Kentucky trips and also ended a two game losing streak.
Anna Shaw led Point Park with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
All 11 healthy players were in the game for the Pioneers, and that included Maura McCaslin who knows her role and uses it to best help her team.
“I just like to help the team any way I can, whether it’s getting a couple more minutes, getting people breaks, to get people shots or just at practice, I just want to be a contributing factor,” McCaslin said.
1/11 PPU 62 Berea 41
After a disappointing first trip to Kentucky, Point Park came back a week later to get this win. Emily Schartner paced the team with 14 points.
The Pioneers led by as many as 27 points in the game.
1/12 PPU 86 Midway 53
Ja’Nia McPhatter had 22 points in the win while Schartner had 13.
The game saw a 90 minute delay as referees thought the game started much later than the actual scheduled time.
The Pioneers started slow up just 12-10 but led 40-27 at halftime before pulling away.
1/13 PPU 68 St. Louis College of Pharmacy 32
The Pioneers were paced by Brittany Dunmire and Shaw who had 10 points and Alexa Xenakis had nine points.
The victory was and still is the largest margin of victory for Point Park on the year. All 11 players saw time in this game as well.
1/22 PPU 69 Carlow 52
The city rivalry once again ended in Point Park’s favor, but not without some troubles. Point Park used a 22-3 run to finish the game to put themselves over the top.
“They played well and it was a sloppy win,” April Austin said following the game. “A victory is a victory whether you win by one or 50.”
The Pioneers led 32-22 thanks to an Austin and McPhatter aided 14-4 run.
Another big factor was the 13 point 12 rebound performance from Katresa Savisky. Her rebounds added numerous extra possessions for her team which led to some extra baskets.
“Personally, I have been getting hyped for it from the get go,” Savisky said. “We definitely had a lot more energy coming into the game today.”
In the second half, Point Park found itself on the ropes down 49-47 with 6:43 left in the second half after leading for the vast majority of the game. In addition Austin and Schartner were limited each having four fouls.
From that point on, it was the Pioneers who controlled the momentum of the game. With 2:52 remaining in regulation, a Davis steal led to a Savisky lay-up and then on the next possession another Davis steal led to her being fouled and an extra point. The second free throw was missed but a McPhatter rebound led to a foul and another two points.
Inside of a minute, Savisky added a three to put the game out of reach. The victory guaranteed the Pioneers at least the fourth seed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference [KIAC] meaning they would get to host a quarterfinal game in the conference tournament.
1/26 PPU 66 West Virginia Tech 54
Despite West Virginia Tech being without its leading scorer, the Pioneers struggled to pull away. It was with 6:05 left in the first half that Point Park got its first lead of the half.
The Pioneers led 30-26 at the half and McPhatter the team’s leading scorer was held to two points. She knew something needed to change.
“We just had a rough first half and we knew coming we had to come in to the second half a little sharper, smarter and go at them,” McPhatter said.
Rebounding was a big advantage for the Pioneers and the team had 13 more than their opponents. Point Park snagged 23 boards on the offensive side and Savisky again had a huge contribution with her 16 rebounds.
“We definitely knew we needed to box out,” McPhatter said. “That was one of the most important things we were worried about today because they were pretty big.”
McPhatter scored 15 of her team high 17 points in the second half noticing way her opponent guarded and tailoring her game accordingly.
2/1 PPU 54 Daemen 52
This may have been the game of the year for the Pioneers. This is always a rivalry game and the matchup did not fail to disappoint.
There was plenty of motivation for Point Park who still had not been ranked despite winning six straight games, 14 of 16 coming into the game and having better record than half of the teams in the top 25.
In addition, Head Coach Tony Grenek and the team were participating in Play 4 Kay that day with proceeds going to women’s cancer research. The team announced this a couple or so weeks before the game and said if $3,000 was raised then Grenek would let his seniors shave his head.
The Pioneers set the tempo in the first half while holding Daemen center Monica Kosior – normally a matchup problem to two points in the first half. Also McPhatter a 30 percent three-point shooter coming into the game made two big ones right before half, allowing her team to lead 24-19 after 20 minutes.
“I just know that [Kosior] was sagging off me, so I had to put up the threes and I’ve been at the gym working on that, so I had to knock them down today,” McPhatter said following the game.
Daemen showed its talent though and with four minutes into the second half they trailed by just one point.
Point Park then caught fire again. Schartner made just one shot all game and the three started a run that ended in a 36-25 Pioneers lead.
Daemen would come back as Point Park hit a lull. Daemen would take a 50-45 lead.
The Pioneers would have to win the game without McPhatter as she fouled out and left with a game high 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was really tough, but I knew I could still help my team by cheering on the bench,” McPhatter said.
Austin and Savisky stepped up though to take a one point lead. The score held for two minutes.
With 27 seconds left in regulation, Kosior made a lay-up to give her team a 52-51 lead. Kosior had 12 points in the second half.
On the Point Park possession, Grenek waited until 10 seconds remained in the second half before calling a timeout.
“The original play was to run a ball screen, however when we did that I wasn’t open, so I kicked it out,” April Austin said following the game. “Schartner wasn’t open, she kicked it out, but I was too shallow so I dribbled it back out and I saw 2.8 up on the clock, so I had to make a shot. I threw it up there and took a decent shot, and hoped that it would go in.”
When Austin put the shot up, there was a silence around the crowded Community College of Allegheny County gym. All of a sudden the silence was broken as the shot went in. Grenek jumped up in the air with his hands up in full extension. The team went crazy on the bench and just 0.4 seconds remained. Daemen called a timeout but it was to no avail as the long inbounds pass was intercepted ending the game.
“It’s a tough loss,” Daemen guard Chelsea Andorka said. “This gym, I swear it has a curse on us. They’re a good team, they deserve it and came out and played hard.”
In addition, the Pioneers did raise $3,380 and Grenek’s head was shaved at center court.
“It’s excellent considering we only raised $33 last year,” Austin said. “We raised a lot of money for a great cause.”
2/9 Berea 49 PPU 48
The Pioneers senior day was ruined by a lack of scoring and poor shooting that ended their seven game winning streak.
“How the hell did that happen,” Maeve Gallagher said. “It sucks to see that we preach defense; that’s our motto, that’s how we win and we let a girl drive to the hoop and score a lay-up to win the game. That just doesn’t happen to us.”
The Pioneers shot just 27.4 percent from the field and while Berea, their opponent shot even worse in the first half, they shot 40% in the second half, which ultimately was enough.
Before the game five seniors in Austin, Anna-Maria Boshkova, Dunmire, Gallagher and Schartner were recognized and received warm applause from the crowd.
“It’s definitely an honor to have everybody come out to recognize us and our accomplishments,” Gallagher said. “To have something being dedicated to you is a pretty humbling experience.”
Grenek elected to start all of these seniors but Boshkova who has missed almost the entire season.
The Pioneers led 22-17 at the half.
It appeared that Point Park had won when Schartner started scoring in the second half. She went on a 9-0 run all by herself and gave her team a 35-21 lead. When Savisky made five of six free throws, the lead was 40-24 with nine minutes left to play.
It was not over though and Berea then went on a 23-2 run as the Point Park offense became stagnant and began fouling.
Berea got a lead with 1:47 left and extended it to 47-43 with 30 seconds to play. Point Park used a mix of time outs to ice Berea and it worked as McPhatter’s lay-up made it a two point game. Austin then stole the ball and Schartner took a three and made it despite being fouled.
“I didn’t even realize that it went in at first, but all I could think about was being nervous for the foul shot,” Schartner said.
The free throw went it to give Point Park a one point lead. It would be all for naught though when DeAnn Ryan converted a lay-up with 5.5 left. The Pioneers used their last timeout with just over two seconds left but it was not enough time.
Now the Pioneers, who had been leading the KIAC need help to win the conference,
“This isn’t how you want senior day to go at all but when it comes down to it, it’s not about this being senior day, but about that we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost,” Emily Schartner said following the Berea loss. “We could have had first place in the conference and now it’s in other people’s hands.”
The Pioneers have one conference game left and that is Friday against Carlow
2/10 PPU 68 PSU Greater Allegheny 48
In a game where everyone saw playing time, the Pioneers got back into their winning ways.
“We needed a bounce back game and this was probably the best for us,” Xenakis said following the Penn State Greater Allegheny game. “In the first half we didn’t do too well, but we picked it up in the second half.”
The Pioneers had strong starts to both halves opening with 9-2 leads. Davis would score 16 points and was a huge part to the first half success. Schartner added 15 points.
This victory gave Point Park 20 on the season. The Pioneers have won 20 games just twice in program history and both have come in Grenek’s two years at Point Park.
“I love watching my team play and it makes me want to work even harder and flow as a team,” Brownfield said.
The road ahead
The Pioneers play Tuesday at Salem International, a team they defeated in the second game of the season. They will then play at Carlow Friday before traveling to West Virginia Tech the next day. That wraps up regular season play. The team will have its KIAC tournament match-up next Saturday at 2 p.m. at CCAC South. If the team wins that game then they will travel to Indiana University East for the semifinals and finals if necessary.
Photo Credits: Point Park University