Point Park men win again, 102-97 at Asbury, improve to 8-6 overall, 4-4 KIAC
Jan. 5, 2013 at 5:45 p.m. ET
T.J. Heatherington had a season-high 34 points and six assists on Saturday. Photo by Evan Skowvron.
WILMORE, Ky. -- T.J. Heatherington's 34 points and six assists led an outstanding performance by Point Park University's starting five as the Pioneers won at Asbury (Ky.) University, 102-97, in a KIAC men's basketball game on Saturday.
It was the third win in a row and the second in as many days for Point Park, which is back in business at 8-6 overall and 4-4 KIAC following a five-game losing streak. Point Park started the year 5-1 but was reeling at 5-6 overall and 1-4 KIAC before tying a season long with its current streak.
The Pioneers got 99 points, three double-doubles and 15 total assists from its starting lineup in the victory at Asbury (10-7, 1-1 KIAC). That made up for the Point Park bench being outscored 31-3.
Led by point guard T.J. Heatherington with 34 points, six assists and four rebounds, the starting five also got 25 points and 10 rebounds from junior Gabe McNeal, a 6-1 guard. Matt Noszka, a 6-4 forward, added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and 6-9 center Babatunde Somoye posted 12 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Jimmy Taylor, a 6-1 guard, chipped in 10 points and six assists for good measure.
Point Park played a great first half to stake a 53-32 lead at the break. The half ended on a 15-2 run for the Pioneers, and that featured three 3-pointers -- two by Noszka and one by McNeal. Noszka finished 4 of 9 from long range, and McNeal was 3 for 6. Taylor added a couple of bombs from outside the arc.
The Pioneers continued their strong play after halftime and were up by 23 points, 71-58, as Heatherington found Somoye for a two-handed dunk with 13 minutes left. But the Pioneers had to hold on late for the win as Asbury cut the deficit to a single possession in the final minute.
Point Park was up 98-90 with 1:30 to go. With a couple of missed free throws and a turnover by Point Park, Asbury cut the lead to 98-95 after C.J. Penny made a second-chance layup and Marquell Johnson hit a trey with 55 seconds left.
Then Heatherington, a 5-10 point guard, dribbled the ball out front while milking the clock down on Point Park's next trip. As the shot clock ticked down, he drove for a clutch layup and a 100-95 lead with 22 seconds remaining.
After an Asbury bucket with 12 seconds left, Heatherington added a pair of free throws for the 102-97 lead with 11 seconds to go. The Eagles missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer as the win was wrapped up for the Pioneers. Heatherington made 20 of 22 free throws and made the first 18 he took.
There were several plays down the stretch that allowed Point Park to stay in front amid the Asbury run. After a steal and a layup got Asbury within 89-83 with 5:00 to go, McNeal scored on a strong drive and Somoye hit a couple of free throws on a second-chance opportunity to get the lead back to double digits, 93-83.
Former University of Kentucky walk-on Adam Delph, a 6-2 guard, led five Asbury players in double figures with 24 points. Asbury had won at Point Park, 91-72, on Dec. 17 in a game that Point Park set a season-low for points scored.
It was a different story on Saturday as the Pioneers got their offense going to the tune of 53-percent shooting overall. The Pioneers also made nine 3-pointers. Asbury shot 48 percent, and its 12 for 27 output from long range included several late treys to close the gap.
With its fourth game scoring more than 100 points, the Pioneers improved to 4-0 when reaching the century mark. Point Park is second in NAIA Division II at 92.0 ppg but also gives up 90.9 ppg.
It was a season-high in points for Heatherington, who surpassed 30 points for the second time this year. He had 10 games of 30 points or more last year. His 20-for-22 performance at the foul line was just shy of his Point Park single-game record for foul shots made and attempted in a single game. He set the record with 21 made free throws in three different games last year. He also holds the record for most free throws attempted at 24 last year.
Point Park plays a couple of non-conference games Monday at PSU-Fayette (7 p.m.) and Wednesday at home to Maine-Fort Kent (7:30 p.m.) before hitting the road for a couple KIAC games next weekend. The Pioneers visit Berea (Ky.) on Jan. 11 and play St. Louis (Mo.) College of Pharmacy on a neutral court at Midway (Ky.) College on Jan. 13.
Notes: T.J. Heatherington now ranks 9th on Point Park's all-time scoring chart with 1,364 career points. He recently passed Jimmy Ney, who had 1,300 points from 1971-75. Next up is Damon Wade in eighth place with 1,451 career points. Heatherington shooting 20 of 22 from the foul line puts him third in place in school history in free throws made (407) and also third in free throws attempted (496). Kenny Walls (1992-96) holds the school records with 610 free throws made and 816 attempted.