No. 21 IU East makes 2nd-Half charge to rally past Point Park men, 80-68Feb. 21, 2015 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Point Park's Yandell Denis is defended by IU East's Tyler Fangman on Saturday.
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. -- Point Park University men's basketball was on the wrong end of a big, second-half run as NAIA Division II No. 21 IU East beat the Pioneers, 80-68, in a KIAC game at CCAC-South on Saturday.
Point Park (14-12, 6-7 KIAC) was playing some of the best basketball that its home fans had seen all year when it was leading the Red Wolves, the top team in the conference, 57-46, with 11:30 to go.
But IU East (23-7, 11-3 KIAC) stormed back with a huge rally. By the time the dust settled on the Red Wolves' surge, it was a 32-5 run over an eight-minute span that put them up, 78-62, with 2:58 left.
It was quite a display for IU East, which showed why it is the best team in the KIAC. The Red Wolves had a lot to play for as they had a chance to win the KIAC regular-season championship and an automatic bid to the NAIA Division II national tournament with a victory at Point Park.
Trailing by double digits, midway through the second half, IU East was not about to let an opportunity to lock up a national bid go by the wayside.
The Red Wolves' charge was led by forward Huston Clark, who had another big game against the Pioneers with 23 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Additionally, Vasha Davis scored nine of 15 after halftime, and Tyler Fangman had eight of his 10 the second half.
Yandell Denis paced Point Park with 21 points, which was one off his career high last week versus Rio Grande, and he also had a team-high nine rebounds and dished out three assists.
Junior T.J. Lanier did not get the start due to giving up his spot on Senior Day, but he had 16 points on 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 5 from long range off the bench. Barry Smith added 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks on his Senior Day, and Jerah'me Williams chipped in 11 points and five assists.
Once the Red Wolves got going, the tide was majorly in their favor. But before that, it was Point Park that was in control. Point Park built on its 36-33, halftime lead for a nine-point lead of 46-37 with 16:22 remaining.
The Pioneers pushed the lead to double digits after another flurry of strong play. A trey by Denis, a jumper by Lanier and layup by Smith on a 2-on-1 break gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of 57-46 at the 11:30 mark.
Point Park was still up 59-50 on a jumper by Denis with 9:01 left. But that was the Pioneers' last field goal for a span of nearly seven minutes. The next basket by Point Park was Lanier's trey with 2:13 left. Although it put somewhat of a stop to the giant run by IU East, by that time the margin was 78-65, and it was too late.
Point Park going cold from the floor coincided with IU East picking up the intensity on both ends of the floor. When the Red Wolves decided to turn up their top defense and rebounding in the conference, the Pioneers found little room to operate.
The result was Point Park shooting just 33 percent (12 for 36) from the floor the second half. That included 3 of 16 (18 percent) from long range. That came after a first half in which the Pioneers shot 47 percent overall and 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
IU East battling back from an 11-point deficit on Saturday was similar to the Red Wolves erasing a 12-point deficit with eight minutes to play in the previous meeting between the teams, an 84-81 win in overtime at home Feb. 8.
Despite the loss, Point Park's spot as the second-place team in the KIAC North Division, right behind IU East, was securely in place before Saturday. At 6-7 KIAC, Point Park will host a first-round playoff game in the eight-team KIAC Tournament beginning next week.
The Pioneers will host the third-place team in the KIAC South Division in the first round, which was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 24. But a notice from the KIAC office sent to conference schools on Saturday stated that the playoffs will instead begin on Wednesday due to the fact that weather has affected the final weekend of the regular season.
Point Park's playoff opponent could be any one of three teams as of Saturday afternoon -- Cincinnati Christian, Asbury (Ky.) or Alice Lloyd (Ky.). In the final regular-season games, Cincinnati Christian hosted Brescia (Ky.) on Saturday night. Asbury (Ky.) will host Alice Lloyd on Monday at 6 p.m., a game that was postponed on Saturday due to weather.
Check the Point Park athletics website for updates on the Pioneers' playoff opponent. The Pioneers' first playoff game will be Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at CCAC-South.
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