Point Park men lose road struggle at IU Kokomo, 96-85, remain 2nd place
Feb. 14, 2015 at 10:45 p.m. ET
Art Christian had a career-high 18 points off the bench at IU Kokomo. Photo by Chris Squier.
KOKOMO, Ind. -- The Point Park University men's basketball team missed a chance to guarantee a playoff home game in the first round of the KIAC Tournament and instead will have to wait until another day for that after Saturday night's 96-85 loss at IU Kokomo in a KIAC game.
The Pioneers (13-11, 5-6 KIAC) continued their road struggles and are now 2-5 in conference road games and 4-8 on the road overall. Point Park will bring its 7-3 home record into its next game, at home Wednesday versus Carlow (7:30 p.m.). The Pioneers can still guarantee a first-round playoff home game with a win in either of their final two games.
Point Park never led and managed just one tie -- at 6-6 -- in the loss to IU Kokomo (10-18, 4-8 KIAC). The Cougars came up with a big weekend as home wins over Carlow and Point Park put them securely in the fourth-and-final playoff spot out of the KIAC North Division and just a half game behind third-place Rio Grande (17-11, 4-7 KIAC).
Since Rio Grande lost at division leader and NAIA Division II No. 23 IU East, 98-84, on Saturday, Point Park's 5-6 conference mark is still good for second place in the division. The top two teams in each KIAC division will play at home in the first round of the playoffs.
It was a disappointing loss for Point Park, which beat IU Kokomo at home Jan. 10, 107-93, a game that had a margin of 30 points until the final minutes. But IU Kokomo had plenty to play for on its Senior Night. The Cougars used hot perimeter shooting to build a 47-34 lead at halftime then made every big 3-pointer and free throw they needed to the second half to win.
Point Park had some hot shooting of its own as its 13 made 3-pointers were their third-most this season. Ten of those came the second during a furious rally attempt. The Pioneers found themselves down by as many as 23 points, 61-38, with 16:36 left, and their shooting nearly brought them all the way back.
Art Christian, a reserve guard from Cleveland, Ohio, led the comeback charge with a career-high 18 points off the bench. He knocked down 4 of 7 treys and 6 of 9 field goals on the night.
Sa'iid Allen also gave a spark off the bench with 11 points and 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. He had eight points and two treys by halftime. His long-range bomb late in the first half kept the Pioneers within 13 at the break.
Jerah'me Williams, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, hit from the outside to bring Point Park within 67-54 at the 13:03 mark. Later, Christian connected from the outside to make it a game at 83-74 with 6:48 left.
And although the Pioneers got as close as 87-83 at the 2:42 mark on yet another trey by Christian, the Cougars came up with some clutch free throws and jumpers to hold off the Pioneers' rally.
IU Kokomo guard Nick Teeter, who had 23 points, made 6 of 6 free throws in the final four minutes. That, coupled with a big 3-pointer by Aaron Knupp for a 94-85 Cougars lead with 57 seconds to go kept the hosts ahead.
Alan Heter posted 16 points and nine rebounds on 7 of 11 from the field for Point Park. Barry Smith added 13 points and seven rebounds. T.J. Lanier finished with nine points to snap a streak of 13 straight games in double figures.
Point Park was plagued by 18 turnovers, which tied for their second-most this season. That neutralized Point Park's 47-39 edge in rebounds. Point Park shot 44 percent from the field and 13 of 32 from long range (41 percent).
IU Kokomo shot the lights out the first half making 9 of 21 3-point attempts the first 20 minutes. Five of those came from Teeter, who was 5 of 12 from deep on the night. Jared Lawrence finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Aaron Knupp had 11. Two of Lawrence's five treys and two of Knupps three treys came the first half.
The Cougars hit their 3-pointers the first half and their free throws the second half. IU Kokomo made 16 of 18 free throws on the night, which included a 14-for-16 performance after halftime to maintain the lead. Point Park was 6 for 11 from the line.
Guard Jerome Campbell had a great game for the Cougars with 17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Center Micah Pier added 19 points as IUK had all five starters in double figures.
Point Park plays its final two games at home. The Pioneers host Carlow on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and then host No. 23 IU East on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 12 p.m. A win in either of those games will give the Point Park second place in the KIAC North Division, which earns a home game in the first round of the KIAC Tournament beginning Feb. 24.
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