Pioneers top Mt. Vernon Nazarene, 88-86, in overtime for key AMC victory
Feb. 4, 2010
MT. VERNON, Ohio – Point Park’s Gerald Warrick forced overtime with a dunk as time expired in regulation, and the 6-7, senior center provided the winning points in overtime as the Pioneers topped Mt. Vernon Nazarene, 88-86, in an AMC men’s basketball game Thursday night.
Warrick (pictured), a native of Penn Hills, slammed home a dunk to tie the score at 78-78 as the horn sounded at the end of regulation. The senior center finished with 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, and his 3-point play with 39 seconds left in the extra period provided the game’s final points and put the Pioneers ahead, 88-86.
After Warrick’s conversion inside, Point Park (8-12, 4-7 American Mideast Conference) had to survive two more possession by Mt. Vernon Nazarene (11-13, 3-8) before time expired. The first time, Warrick blocked a shot and got the defensive rebound. Then, after two missed foul shots by Warrick, the Cougars misfired on a jumper on the other end as the clock hit all zeroes.
It was the first overtime game this year for Point Park and the third in a row for Mt. Vernon Nazarene. The Cougars are 1-3 in four OT games this season.
The victory snaps a five-game road losing streak for Point Park. The Pioneers are 1-4 in AMC road games and 2-5 on the road overall. Their only other true road win was an 82-69 victory at Penn State Fayette on Nov. 17.
The Pioneers snapped their road woes by getting a career-high 25 points from junior guard/forward Eric Johnson (Uniontown/Uniontown) and 19 points from freshman point guard T.J. Heatherington (McKeesport/Serra).
Senior guard Marcus Robinson (Pittsburgh/Allderdice) added 14 points, and the fifth starter, junior guard Jamar Washington (Pittsburgh/Peabody) added eight points and six rebounds.
Point Park junior guard Joel Cashatt (Stockton, Calif./Jim Elliott Christian) had only three points, but he dished out five assists and sparked the defense with five steals. In his biggest assist of the game, Cashatt drove the lane with the clock ticking down in regulation and found Warrick for the game-tying dunk.
Warrick, who transferred to Point Park from Edinboro this year, posted his fifth double-double in his last seven games. The only two games in that stretch that he failed to get double-digit points and rebounds were a 23-point, seven-rebound effort vs. Roberts Wesleyan and an eight-point, 16-rebound performance Saturday vs. Cedarville.
Warrick had to sit out the first semester after transferring in. But in 10 games since making his debut Jan. 4, he is averaging 13.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. His 17 rebounds Thursday are tied for the fifth-highest single-game total in school history.
Johnson, a 6-2 guard, posted his third double-double of the season with 11 rebounds and registered his third 20-point game this year. Johnson made 11 of 20 shots on the night, and 17 of his points came in the second half as he helped the Pioneers erase a 43-38 deficit at the break.
Johnson fouled out with 1:32 left in regulation, but the Pioneers had enough offense to pull it out in overtime. Johnson’s previous career high of 21 came earlier this year vs. Trevecca Nazarene.
Playing all 45 minutes, Heatherington tallied 19 points, six assists and five rebounds. The freshman from McKeesport, Pa., leads the Pioneers in scoring and assists and in 10 games since the start of the second semester he is averaging 18.1 points and 6.0 assists per game.
Mt. Vernon Nazarene was led by guard Robbie Taylor, who buried two consecutive 3-pointers in the overtime period to put the Cougars ahead, 86-85. Taylor had 16 points and had to pick up the slack of backcourtmate Brandon Short, who left the game due to injury after seven minutes. But after Taylor's second overtime trey, Warrick’s game-winning 3-point play came on the next Point Park possession to provide the difference.
After struggling to shoot 33 percent from the field the first half, Point Park shot 48 percent (20 of 42) the second half and overtime. For the night, Point Park shot 41 percent (34 of 84) and held the Cougars to 36.4 percent (28 of 77). Mt. Vernon Nazarene made 3 of 9 field goals in the overtime, and two of those were Taylor’s long-range jumpers.
Both teams grabbed 54 rebounds. Point Park had 13 turnovers, which was one less than Mt. Vernon Nazarene.
The Cougars held a 40-9 advantage in bench points with Bryce Sanborn (12 points), Ben Severns (10) and Travis Brown (10) leading the surge among the reserves. Besides Taylor, the only other starter in double figures was Jordan Heatherly with 14.
Point Park fell behind early and trailed by 11, 24-13 midway through the first half. But the Pioneers got the deficit down to five by halftime, and neither team led by more than a couple of possession the second half.
The Pioneers still have a long road to hoe in order to get back into the AMC North Division playoff picture, and Thursday’s game was the first of three important road contests in a row.
The Pioneers are 2.5 games out of the third-and-final playoff spot with five conference games left, the first of which is a make-up game at Shawnee State Saturday (12 p.m.). Point Park finishes up the three-game road swing Tuesday at Daemen (7:30 p.m.).