Point Park men knock off #22 Malone, stay alive in AMC playoff hunt
Feb. 12, 2011
Josh Trocchio had a season-high 22 points for Point Park Saturday. Photo by Lyddia Ankrom.
CANTON, Ohio – The Point Park University men’s basketball team stayed within reach of an American Mideast Conference playoff berth winning at NAIA DII #22 Malone, 76-75, Saturday afternoon.
The Pioneers (13-10, 7-8 AMC) are 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot with three games to go thanks to hanging on to beat a nationally ranked Malone (17-10, 10-5 AMC) squad for the second time this year.
Point Park was in control at halftime with a 41-26 lead, but Malone made a second-half comeback aided by connecting on 5 of 11 3-pointers the final 20 minutes. Guarding a 76-75 lead, Point Park missed the front end of a one-and-one foul situation with 25 seconds left, and Malone called timeout to set up a play.
Malone’s Isiah Elliott, a freshman point guard, got a look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but the shot missed as time expired. For Malone, it was the second time losing to Point Park this year. Point Park upset then-No.18 Malone in a Jan. 27 home game, 90-80.
Point Park senior forward Kris Douse had another huge game with 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead the upset. The 6-7 transfer from Delaware State made 7 of 16 field goals and also came up big at the foul line in making 11 of 13 free throws. The national rebounding leader is tied for second in the country with 18 double-doubles.
Josh Trocchio, a senior guard from North Hills, Pa., led the Point Park perimeter scoring with a season-high 22 points. Trocchio, who made 5 of 12 3-pointers, made a pair of free throws for a 71-65 lead with 5:23 to go.
Then Point Park, which led from start to finish, held onto the lead despite making only one field goal the final five minutes. Senior guard Joel Cashatt, a Stockton, Calif., native, buried a big 3-pointer for a 76-70 lead with 3:02 to go. That trey stood up as the winning points even though Point Park came up empty on its last three possessions. Cashatt finished with 13 points and was 3 of 5 from 3-point land.
After Cashatt’s late 3-pointer, Ebiowei Porbeni scored on the inside and Che Richardson knocked down a long-range jumper to make it 76-75 with 1:23 to go. Douse missed a jumper on Point Park’s ensuing possession, but the visiting Pioneers caught a break on the other end when Porbeni turned it over.
The late miscue by Porbeni allowed Point Park to drain the clock down to 25 seconds before Malone fouled. A missed chance on a one-and-one free throw left the door open for Elliott’s potential game-winner, which was not to be.
Jimmy Sherwood added 12 points for Point Park, and his layup gave the Pioneers a 19-10 lead midway through the first half. Later, Trocchio drilled a trey for a 39-19 lead with 2:38 before halftime.
Point Park’s second-half lead grew to as much as 57-40 on Trocchio’s long-range bomb at the 14:48 mark. The Pioneers maintained a double-digit lead until Malone used an 11-3 run to get the deficit down to 67-63 with 6:15 remaining.
Malone had cold shooting in the first half in shooting just 28 percent overall and 2 of 16 from outside the arc. The home-standing Pioneers recovered for 50 percent field goals (17 of 34) the final 20 minutes to aid their comeback, but Point Park’s 43-percent shooting (25 of 58) for the night pulled through.
Veldhuizen scored a team-high 24 points for Malone. The freshman forward got 16 points above his average and was the only starter in double figures. Reserve guard Jock Rottman scored 12 points.
Most notably, Malone’s top player and leading scorer Eric Coblentz was held to four points on 2 of 10 shooting from the field and 0 of 7 from long range. Coblentz entered the day averaging a team-best 14.2 ppg.
With the victory, Point Park improved to 3-2 this year versus the NAIA DII Top 25. The losses have come to top-ranked and AMC-leading Walsh (15-1 AMC), which was 26-0 before losing to very hot Roberts Wesleyan (9-6 AMC) team Saturday afternoon.
Elsewhere in the AMC, Cedarville improved to 10-5 conference with an 88-59 win at Mt. Vernon Nazarene (8-8 AMC) as the Cougars fell out of the top five places in the standings. Daemen improved to 9-7 AMC with a lopsided win over Houghton, 101-41.
Daemen currently holds the fifth and final playoff spot in the league and is 1.5 games ahead of Point Park and one game in front of Mt. Vernon Nazarene. Daemen faces a Roberts Wesleyan team that has won eight of nine games this week before traveling to Point Park for the regular-season finale Feb. 19.
Point Park visits Houghton (6-18, 1-14 AMC) on Tuesday. Tipoff is 8 p.m. The Pioneers, who were 1-5 in AMC road games prior to Saturday’s upset at Malone, travel to Notre Dame (OH) Thursday.