Point Park comes up empty on late chances in 80-76 loss to Centre (Ky.) College
Nov. 22, 2013 at 11:30 p.m. ET
Gabe McNeal and the Pioneers dropped the first game of their weekend road trip. Evan Skowvron Photo.
WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- The Point Park University men's basketball team had its chances late but could not get the big shot to go down in an 80-76 loss to NCAA Division II Centre (Ky.) College at the Otterbein Classic on Friday night.
Point Park (5-4, 1-0 KIAC) trailed by 10, 67-57, with 8:33 left but battled back to make it a one-possesion game, 79-76, when senior guard Gabe McNeal hit a transition jumper with 1:20 remaining.
Centre (2-1), an NCAA Division III national tournament qualifier from a year ago, turned the ball over on its next possession, giving the Pioneers a chance for the tying 3-pointer with under 1:00 to go. But McNeal missed fired from the top of the key as Centre got the defensive rebound with 48 seconds left.
With the ball and the 3-point lead, the Colonels worked the shot clock down on their next trip before ultimately missing a long-range jumper, and Point Park cleared the rebound with nine seconds to go.
After a timeout by Point Park, the Pioneers were unable to get into a play for the potential tying 3-pointer because Centre opted to commit a non-shooting foul soon after Point Park point guard Robbie Heatherington began to dribble up court.
That sent Heatherington to the line for a 1-and-1, but he missed the front end. Point Park did grab the offensive rebound, but it turned it over with just 0.9 seconds left. The Pioneers fouled, and Matt Gump made 1 of 2 foul shots to seal the win.
A big difference in the game was 3-point shooting as Centre knocked down 13 treys for 36 percent (13 for 36) from long range whereas Point Park had a cold night from outside the arc, making only 7 of 29 attempts for 24 percent.
Collin Lopez had a team-high 19 points and made 5 of 9 treys for Centre. John Karsner came off the bench for 15 points and three treys. Another reserve to spark the victory was Ryan Murray, who had 11 points on 3 of 4 from distance.
Point Park junior forward Alan Heter had game-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds for another double-double for the Montour High School product and Edinboro University transfer. Heatherington added 19 points, four assists, four steals and three 3-pointers.
Senior forward Nick Brown added 18 points and matched Heatherington with three treys. McNeal finished with 13 points, and final starter Matt Noszka totaled four as the Pioneers' starters accounted for all 76 points. Centre led in bench points, 33-0.
Centre got off to a great start hitting four 3-pointers in the first four minutes for a 16-4 lead with 15:58 left in the first half. But Point Park steadily battled back and managed a 35-35 tie with 5:38 before the half.
The Pioneers went on to take a lead before the half was through as McNeal's free throw capped a 9-0 run for a 40-35 advantage at the 2:37 mark. But Centre got even by halftime, 40-40.
The second half started the same way as the first half for Centre -- with a 3-pointer on the first possesion by Lopez. That sprung the Colonels on their way, and Point Park never led the rest of the game. The best Point Park could do was a 47-47 tie with 16:01 left.
Centre built its 10-point lead, 67-57, after Murray, Lopez and then Murray again hit from downtown on three straight possessions with 8:33 left. Not to be out done, McNeal, Heatherington and Brown all hit from the outside to pull the Pioneers within 71-65 at the 5:31 mark.
Yet another 3-pointer by Lopez and a dunk by Tyler Wesley built a 79-70 lead for Centre with 2:42 to play. Point Park got back into it with four free throws -- two each by Nozska and Heter -- then a big transition jumper by McNeal to make it 79-76.
Point Park shot 42 percent for the game, and Centre connected on 50 percent. Both teams had 37 rebounds.
It was a short stay for Point Park at the Otterbein Classic as it was just passing through on the way to play a KIAC game at Indiana Kokomo on Saturday at 12 p.m. Point Park beat Indiana Kokomo, 69-65, at home Nov. 12 in its only conference game thus far.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on the Point Park Sports Network. Tune in at 11:45 a.m. for the audio-only broadcast at iHigh.com/PointParkSportsNetwork.