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Point Park erases 24-point deficit to stun Daemen, 88-87, and make AMC playoffs

Feb. 19, 2011


The highlights above start with Point Park trailing 84-83 in the final minute. Video by Tim Allan

BOXSCORE 

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – Jimmy Sherwood hit a go-ahead jumper with six seconds left for two of his 23 points, and Kris Douse added 28 points and nine rebounds to lift Point Park University to an 88-87 victory over Daemen College as the Pioneers punched their ticket to the American Mideast Conference playoffs Saturday at CCAC-South.

The Pioneers (15-11, 9-9 AMC) trailed by as many as 24 points, 48-24, late in the first half, but they made the huge comeback to stun Daemen (14-15, 9-9 AMC) and knock the Wildcats out of playoff contention.

Although tied with Daemen and Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 9-9 AMC, Point Park will get the fifth-and-final layoff spot thanks to winning a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker went Point Park’s way when Cedarville beat Notre Dame (OH) at home, 66-49, late Saturday night.

Point Park, Daemen and Mt. Vernon Nazarene split all of the games involving each other this year right down the middle. The next tiebreaker takes into account what each team did versus the top teams in the conference. None of them beat conference-leading and NAIA DII #2 Walsh (17-1 AMC).

Cedarville wrapped up second place with its win Saturday, and Point Park has the edge in the tiebreaker over Daemen and Mt. Vernon Nazarene, which were both swept by the Yellow Jackets this year. Point Park split the season series with Cedarville.

Point Park will visit Cedarville in the first round of the AMC Qualifying Tournament Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The winner moves onto the semifinals with the winner of that going on to face Walsh, which gets a bye to the AMC Championship Game. Point Park is 0-6 all-time at Cedarville, including a 100-87 loss Feb. 3.

The other first round game includes Malone at Roberts Wesleyan. As the AMC regular season champion, Walsh has already locked up an NAIA DII national bid, and its opponent in the AMC Championship Game will also get a bid to the national tournament.

On Saturday versus Daemen, Sherwood’s late, go-ahead jumper was the culmination of an impressive, second-half comeback in which the Pioneers shot 59 percent the field in front of a raucous home crowd. Sherwood had 18 points the second half to lead the charge.

The first half was all Daemen, however. The Wildcats were on fire from all over the floor to the tune of 55-percent shooting overall and 56-percent accuracy from 3-point range. Daemen made 10 of 18 treys the first half with Dominic Mazzocchi making 5 of 7 from the outside before halftime.

Mazzocchi finished with 28 points on 10 of 18 from the field and 6 of 10 from long range, and teammate M.J. Oridami had 13 of his 22 points the first half.

Although Point Park ended the first period on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 48-32 by halftime, Daemen was still in control in the second half with a 53-38 lead with 16:53 left. Point Park chipped away to get within 10, 57-47, on Sherwood’s jumper with 14:22 to go. But Daemen was still ahead, 62-52, at the 12:49 mark.

Point Park made a charge, however, as its quick, 12-2 run over a span of just over two minutes knotted the score at 64-64 with 10:20 left. Senior guard Joel Cashatt, who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, got the rally going with a big, step-back 3-pointer, and Douse followed with a key 3-point play the old-fashioned way.

But , with Douse forced to go to the bench with four fouls and already 24 points to his credit, Daemen took advantage by going ahead, 75-68, with 7:57 left. Daemen was able to maintain a lead of a couple possessions over the next five minutes until Sherwood’s jumper and Cashatt’s free throw made it an 84-83 game with 1:57 to go.

On Point Park’s next trip, Sherwood missed a makeable layup, but after a Daemen turnover, Sherwood redeemed himself in a big way by coming off a screen for a 3-pointer and an 86-84 lead with 48 seconds remaining. After setting up a play in a timeout, Daemen called on Mazzocchi, who buried a trey at the top of the key for an 87-86 edge with 17 ticks to go.

But Sherwood was not done with his heroics as he hit a leaning, 15-foot jumper with contact at the other end as the Pioneers led, 88-87, with six seconds on the clock. Daemen called timeout and got Oridami a look at a game-winning trey on the wing, but it misfired.

In the first half, Daemen held a 16-15 lead after seven minutes before catching fire to pull away. The Wildcats knocked down three 3-pointers in a row for a 30-17 lead midway through the half. They followed that up with an 18-4 run that included 7 of 11 field goals as the lead grew to 48-24.

In addition to Daemen’s hot shooting, the Wildcats’ first-half lead had the benefit of Point Park’s eight turnovers before halftime. But the Pioneers made just one turnover the second half. Point Park combined that good ball control with making 16 of 27 field goals and 5 of 12 treys the final 20 minutes to win.

Junior forward Devon Alexander chipped in 11 points off the bench, made 3 of 4 field goals and hit 5 of 6 free throws. The McKeesport native made several big buckets down the stretch and has averaged 16.0 ppg the last three games.

For more information on the upcoming AMC tournament, including the bracket, the schedule and more, visit the Point Park University athletic website.

Point Park has won four of its last five games to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08.