Point Park battles deficit, short bench but loses in overtime at No. 25 Lourdes
Dec. 11, 2013 at 11:00 p.m. ET
Gabe McNeal (10) goes up for two of his 28 points as Alan Heter (11) and Josh Pohlot look on. Photo by LU sports info.
ADRIAN, Mich. -- Four starters playing all 45 minutes, the fifth starter playing only a few seconds past tipoff and getting behind by 16 points in the first half was just a bit of the adversity faced by the Point Park University men's basketball team Wednesday night at NAIA Division II No. 25 Lourdes (Ohio).
Still, Point Park turned a 46-36, halftime deficit into a 66-58 lead with a remarkable, 30-12 run the first 11 and a half minutes of the second half. But the Pioneers (6-6) didn't have enough to finish off the upset as Lourdes (9-2) outlasted them in overtime, 92-88.
Point Park played some of its best basketball of the year the first 16 minutes of the second half versus Lourdes, which has the third-ranked defense in NAIA Division II giving up just 56.1 points per game.
But the Pioneers' offense was clicking at high efficiency with senior guard Gabe McNeal finishing with 28 points and senior forward Nick Brown scoring 22 of his 26 after halftime.
Point Park's defense was also up to the task holding Lourdes to 34-percent shooting overall and 3 of 11 from 3-point range the second half as a key part of the Pioneers' comeback.
Brown made a layup for a 73-70, Point Park lead with 4:09 play. That's when Point Park hit a bit of a wall.
Lourdes worked a 76-73 lead in the final minute after a second chance basket, a layup following a turnover and a couple of free throws.
Needing a 3-pointer with possession and 24 seconds left, McNeal misfired for the Pioneers. But Brown got the offensive rebound and fed Alan Heter, who drained a trey with 10 seconds left to tie the score at 76-76 and force overtime.
Heter, a 6-6 forward, had 14 points and 12 rebounds. He was 1 for 4 from long range and is now 2 for 10 from there on the season.
In the extra period, Lourdes edged Point Park, 16-12, in points to come away with the win. The Gray Wolves got out to leads of 84-80 and 91-85. Brown hit a 3-pointer late to cut it to 91-88, but it was too late for the Pioneers.
It was a strong effort from the Pioneers, who had starters McNeal, Brown, Heter and Matt Noszka each play all 45 minutes of regulation and overtime. Robbie Heatherington was the fifth starter, but he was only on the court for a few seconds after tipoff. Josh Pohlot took his place and played 39 of the 45 minutes.
Heatherington, who had been playing several games through a bad ankle injury, tried to give it a go Wednesday, but it was decided before tipoff that he and the team would be better off holding him out. Problem was, Heatherington had already been reported as a starter in the official book.
So, Heatherington was required to be on the floor for the tipoff until the referees were able to stop the game a few seconds in on an official's timeout. That allowed for Pohlot to come into the game and Heatherington out.
Without the point guard who was leading the country at 7.6 assists per game, the Pioneers stayed even with Lourdes in the early going and were up, 13-12, on Heter's jumper. But Lourdes and its third-ranked defense began to take affect, and the Gray Wolves got out to a 40-24 lead with 5:48 left in the half.
Point Park's offense was hurt by going 2 for 12 from long range the first half. Meanwhile, Lourdes shot 54 percent the opening 20 minutes despite being held to 3 for 12 from long range.
It was a different story offensively for Point Park in the second half. And the second, and perhaps more important part of the comeback, was a Pioneers defense that got the stops it needed to erase the deficit.
The Pioneers drew even at 56-56 on Brown's layup with 12:05 to go, which gave Point Park a 20-10 edge since halftime. By the time Point Park took its biggest lead of 66-58 with 8:30 left, it had scored 30 of the first 42 points of the second half.
Lourdes, behind Jake Dupree with 23 points and Elvin Butler with 15, made it a one-possession game the last five minutes. Zack Steinmetz added 16 for Lourdes, which had the edge in depth by the time overtime arrived.
Pohlot had 12 points and eight rebounds off the Point Park bench, which has been virtually erased with injuries. The Pioneers have been without bench players T.J. Lanier (9 games) and Kyerell Scott (6 games). And Yandell Denis is having to sit out the entire first semester due to transfer rules.
The 76 points in regulation and the 92 points overall were the most given up by Lourdes this year. The Gray Wolves, who led the country in scoring defense last year and have been to the NAIA DII national tournament two years in a row, have given up more than 70 points only one other time this season. That was in a 75-65 loss to No. 9 Bethel (Ind.).
Point Park has one more game in the semester -- at home Saturday versus KIAC opponent Brescia (Ky.). Tipoff is 3 p.m. at CCAC-South Gym. After that, the Pioneers are off for three weeks until a KIAC road trip to No. 4 IU Southeast and Brescia (Ky.) Jan. 4-5.
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