Point Park men take No. 2 IU Southeast to wire but lose in KIAC 1st Round
Feb. 25, 2014
Gabe McNeal, who had 30 points on Tuesday, cuts throught the IU Southeast defense Feb. 8 at home. Photo by Sam Robinson.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. -- The Point Park University men's basketball team was once again close to an upset of NAIA Division II No. 2-ranked Indiana Southeast but lost, 99-94, in the first round of the KIAC Tournament on Tuesday night in New Albany, Ind.
Top seed Indiana Southeast (24-3, 17-0 KIAC) ended the upset bid of Point Park (11-17, 6-11 KIaC) when Vernon Davis hit a jumper with 47 seconds left for a 96-94 lead. The Grenadiers made free throws from that point on as the Pioneers missed their last two field goals and they advance to the KIAC semifinals Feb. 28.
The game was in doubt throughout with a total of 12 ties and 19 lead changes over the course of 40 minutes. Point Park's Nick Brown hit a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to make the score 42-42 at the break. The teams then buckled in for a final 20 minutes that included 16 ties and saw the lead change hands nine times.
In a game that involved the No. 1 3-point shooting team in NAIA Division II of Indiana Southeast, a 43-percent team from long range, it was Point Park that put on the shooting display. The Pioneers made a season-high 16 treys and shot 46 percent from long range.
On the other hand, Indiana Southeast was held to 27-percent and 6-for-22 shooting from the outside. The Grenadiers were 3 of 17 from deep the first half (17 percent).
Senior guard Gabe McNeal scored a game-high 30 points for Point Park on 11 of 23 from the field and 4 of 8 from long range. McNeal also added five assists.
Brown put up 23 points and 11 rebounds to take the KIAC lead in double-doubles with 13 on the year. The 6-7 senior who transferred from West Liberty University knocked down one of his five 3-pointers for a 63-61, Point Park lead with 10:24 to go.
Matt Noszka connected on four treys and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Robbie Heatherington handed out 10 assists while T.J. Lanier (11 points) and Josh Pohlot (8 points) combined for 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Pioneers were 9 of 19 (53 percent) on 3-pointers the second half, including Brown's bomb with 2:04 to go that put a scare into the home crowd for a 92-91, Point Park lead.
Although IU Southeast guard Aishon White got a bucket for the 19th lead change of the game, 93-92, Lanier scored inside for Point Park to tie things at 94-94 with 1:00 remaining.
Thats when Payne made his big jumper for the 96-94 lead with 47 seconds left. On the other end, the 6-7 Payne blocked a 3-point attempt by McNeal, and after Cameron Mitchell made a couple of free throws, Point Park misfired again. Two more free throws by Mitchell ended Point Park's hopes.
Mitchell led IU Southeast with 22 points, White scored 21 and Jake Simpson put in 20 to give the Grenadiers three perimeter players with big games. Those three picked it up the second half with 17, 15 and 13 points, respectively, the final 20 minutes.
Point Park was hurt by 17 turnovers, 11 of which came in the second half, when IU Southeast outscored the Pioneers, 57-52.
Point Park's biggest lead was 5-0 when McNeal hit a jumper and Heatherington a 3-pointer to start the game. IU Southeast led by as many as 11 points, 34-23, at the 5:55 mark of the first half, but Point Park forged a tie by halftime.
It was the second time that Point Park nearly upset the highly ranked Grenadiers, who have not lost to an NAIA Divison II or KIAC team all year. Point Park led late in the 95-89 home loss to IU Southeast Feb. 8 as the Pioneers joined Cincinnati Christian as the only KIAC teams to get within 10 points of the Grenadiers on the final scoreboard this year.
It was one of the only close games this year for IU Southeast, which leads the country in scoring margin, winning by an average of 18.5 points per game. The Grenadiers also lead NAIA DII in scoring at 97.4 ppg.
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