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Pioneers clinch KIAC crown

Women's basketball wins record 22 regular season games

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

It was a tiring week for the Point Park women’s basketball team, as they finished up their regular season struggling through three games but ultimately to winning the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) regular season title.

Considering the Pioneers just lost on the road to West Virginia Tech, clinching the number one seed surprised to the team.

“It feels very good because it was unexpected, because we thought we would be co-champs,” said Haley Sauer following the West Virginia Tech game. “It’s a great feeling to be champs and not co-champs like last year.”

The week started with a non-conference trip to Salem International, Salem, WV, Point Park emerged victorious winning 78-56.

Ja’Nia McPhatter led all scorers with 20 points and seven rebounds while Teresa Davis added 18 points. The Pioneer defense contributed by forcing 21 turnovers and 15 steals.

At halftime, Point Park led 36-32; however, a 15-4 Pioneer run starts the second half and put the game out of reach for Salem.

There was a lot on the line last Friday in a KIAC matchup against city rival Carlow University. A win would mean that Point Park would at worst case share the KIAC crown with Asbury University of KY.; however if Asbury lost its match against Indiana University Southeast, Point Park would clinch the top seed and the title.

From the opening tip, it looked like Point Park was ahead as Emily Schartner made an opening three and the team quickly led 14-6.

Carlow would not give in with as reserves Chanel Berry and Lynzi Mueller each drilling three-point-shots. Together they would make six three-pointers in the contest and combine for 30 points led by Berry’s 21 points.

The Pioneers had its issues shooting the ball, and got into slumps where the offense appeared stagnant. While Schartner went 9-11 from the free throw line, the team shot just 65% from the line.

McPhatter once again led her team in scoring, this time with 19 points and nine rebounds. Her three-pointer, her second of the game, gave the Pioneers a 49-39 lead with 3:26 left in the second half.

When the final whistle sounded, the Pioneers won by a 57-48 score.

“Since it’s a conference game, it’s huge,” said head coach Tony Grenek after the West Virginia Tech game. “Regardless of if they’re a rival or not, we needed to get that victory to at least get a share of the KIAC conference championship.”

The victory marked a milestone as the Pioneers won its 22nd game of the season. The 22 wins represent a program record for most victories in a regular season.

“Seeing that it’s the second year in a row of doing this, it’s a great feat. We haven’t done that before previously at Point Park, and we’re glad it happened,” said Teresa Davis after the West Virginia Tech game.

Early the next morning, the team traveled over four hours to Montgomery, W. Va. for a game against West Virginia Tech.

There the Pioneers had a 20-12 lead in the first quarter before allowing West Virginia to cut it to 26-24 at halftime.

Again the team had issues, most notably shooting the ball. Point Park made 17 of 73 shots, a 23.3% clip while it was worse from three-point range at 12%.

“We just need our shots to start falling again,” Grenek said. “We played last night and didn’t get off the court until after 9:30 then turn around and take a four-and-a-half hour trip to a Division-I team, so we’re going to have days like that where we struggle offensively.”

In the second half, the struggles continued and Point Park allowed West Virginia Tech to pull away and win a 61-45 contest. McPhatter’s 10 points and nine rebounds led her team.

“It was just a combination of everything: We’re tired, we’re injured and it was their senior day and they were hyped,” said Davis. “Nothing was really falling for us. I think we gave good effort out there but exhaustion just hit us.”

While the players were in the locker room, KIAC foe Asbury was playing fellow conference team Indiana University Southeast. Asbury needed to win this game and one more to secure the top seed in the tournament but Indiana University Southeast won by a 92-85 score this meant that Point Park won the 2012-13 KIAC regular season title, and turned the mood of the team upside down as they celebrated despite the loss.

“Right after when we were in the locker room we found out that Asbury lost, and we got the conference championship outright,” Davis said. “We didn’t care about the loss today because becoming conference champions was what mattered. It was a good feeling when we found out.”

Now the team will rest up and prepare for their KIAC tournament quarterfinal match against Carlow. The game will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. at Community College of Allegheny County South’s gymnasium. It will be the final home game of the season for Point Park.

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