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No. 8 Shawnee State pulls away from Point Park in second half Sunday

Jan. 24, 2010

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio - Playing its third game in four days, the Point Park University women's basketball didn't have enough to keep up with the No. 8 team in the nation Sunday and suffered an 82-74 loss at Shawnee State.

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The Pioneers (9-9 overall, 5-5 AMC) led the American Mideast Conference game 9-0 and 12-3, but Shawnee State (15-4, 7-2) took advantage of Point Park's tired legs and pulled away in the second half.

After trailing 9-0, Shawnee State outscored Point Park, 38-23, the rest of the first half to lead 38-32 at the break. Then, the eighth-ranked team in Monday's NAIA Division II Top 25 Coaches' Poll built a 61-51 lead midway through the second half and did not allow Point Park to get within eight the final 10 minutes.

With Sunday's loss, Point Park finished a stretch of playing three games in four days, and the Pioneers lost all three contests. The road matchup with Shawnee State had been postponed Jan. 9 due to inclement weather, and unfortunately for Point Park, the make-up date was tacked on to a stretch of playing five games in nine days.

The Pioneers were 1-4 in that brutal stretch of games dating back to last Saturday's 70-66 loss to Notre Dame (OH). Point Park, which dipped to the .500 mark for the first time since being 1-1 on Nov. 14, will get right back into AMC play Tuesday when its tries to get well versus Ursuline (5-17, 1-10) at 7 p.m.

Senior guard/forward Brittney Wilson (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) paced four Point Park players in double figures with 14 points. The 5-9 senior scored 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting in the first half, and she connected on a 3-pointer and layup to help the Pioneers stake the early, 9-0 lead.

Ashley Henderson (Greensburg/Greensburg Central Catholic) knocked down a trey to give Point Park a 12-3 lead after 4:25, and the junior guard ended up with 13 points, a career-high 10 assists and six rebounds.

Henderson, who averaged 17.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds in four games this week, registered her second-career double-double on Sunday. The only other double-double of her career was an 11-point, 10-rebound performance in last year's season opener, which was her first game at Point Park since transferring in.

Henderson scored a career-high 29 points in Saturday's loss to Daemen. The Greensburg, Pa. native had eight 20-point games last year, but Saturday's effort was her first such performance this year.

April Austin (Penn Hills/North Catholic) and Kristen Veseleny (Pleasant Hills/Thomas Jefferson) chipped in 10 points apiece for the Pioneers, and Terrica Jones (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) just missed a double-double with eight points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

Shawnee State's Mallory Albers led all scorers with 25 points on 10 of 18 shooting, and her layup started a 17-4 run that allowed the Bears to build a 20-16 lead at the 10:34 mark of the first half.

Point Park stayed within a couple of possessions of the highly ranked Bears the rest of the first half, and although Veseleny's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 36-32 late in the half, Shawnee State took a 38-32 edge into the locker room.

Veseleny, a sophomore guard/forward who hit three of Point Park's nine 3-pointers, connected from long range to knot the score at 43-43 with 16:42 left. But Shawnee State took the lead for good on its next possession.

Henderson's jumper drew the Pioneers within 53-49 with 12:56, but then the Bears used a 12-2 run to build a 65-51 lead with 8:42 remaining.

Point Park threatened two minutes later by getting the lead down to 10 points, 68-58, but Keilee Guthrie answered with a 3-pointer for the Bears to stretch the advantage. A 3-pointer by Austin in the closing seconds kept it from being a double-digit win for Shawnee State.

The Pioneers' defense gave up more than 80 points for the third game in a row, and Point Park is 1-5 when giving up at least that many. Point Park lost to Walsh, 83-56, Thursday before falling to Daemen, 87-69, Saturday.

Shawnee State shot 49 percent from the floor (28 of 57), which included 54 percent in the second half. Conversely, they held Point Park to 37-percent shooting (29 of 79) for the game. The Bears made 21 free throws to help put the game away.

Point Park was plagued by a 7-for-19 performance from the foul line and was out-rebounded, 47-45. The Pioneers had 21 offensive rebounds and Jones led the way with eight boards on the offensive end.

NOTES:
Shawnee State, which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NAIA Division II earlier this year, was chosen in the preseason to finish first in the AMC. Before last week, the Bears had not lost a conference game in nearly two years.

Shawnee State, then No. 4 in the nation, was upset by Notre Dame (OH) Jan. 14 for its first AMC loss since February of 2008. A day later, the Bears made it two losses in a row with a loss to first-place Walsh.

The recent losses caused Shawnee State to drop four spots to No. 8 in this week's NAIA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll, but they rebounded to earn wins over Ursuline, Malone and Point Park the past five days.

Point Park is 0-3 this year versus ranked teams. The Pioneers lost to No. 8 Indiana Wesleyan Dec. 29, and followed that up with a loss to No. 11 Cedarville the following day. Indiana Wesleyan has since moved up to fourth and Cedarville, which visits Point Park Saturday, is currently ranked fifth.