Austin's 28 points leads Point Park to key AMC win at Notre Dame (OH)
Jan. 28. 2010
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - April Austin scored 28 points and hit several key baskets down the stretch to lead the Point Park University women's basketball team to an important, 68-62, victory at Notre Dame (OH) in an American Mideast Conference game Thursday night.
Austin (Penn Hills/North Catholic) registered a career high for AMC games and was three shy of her career high overall to help Point Park improve to 11-9 overall and 7-5 in the AMC.
The 5-6 freshman point guard (pictured) scored 10 of Point Park's final 13 points the last six minutes, including an old-fashioned 3-point play that gave the Pioneers the lead for good, 58-56, with 5:39 to go. That play started a string of seven straight points from Austin that turned a 56-55 deficit into a 62-58 lead.
Austin, who finished with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, made three free throws in the final 35 seconds to help preserve the victory. Austin's career high of 31 points came at Geneva this year, and her previous high in an AMC game came in a 27-point performance versus Roberts Wesleyan Jan. 18.
With the win, the Pioneers avenged an earlier loss to Notre Dame (12-8 overall, 8-4 AMC) and handed the Falcons their first home loss of the season. What's more, Point Park snapped a six-game losing streak at Notre Dame's Murphy Gymnasium. On the year, the Falcons are 6-1 at home and 5-1 in AMC home games.
Also, the Pioneers matched their win total from last year, and they helped to ease the pain of a disappointing, 70-66, home loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 16. Point Park led that game by 18 at halftime, 54-36, only to be outscored 34-12 the final 20 minutes.
Point Park was 11-14 overall and 4-11 in the AMC last year. Interestingly, Thursday's win was the 300th for the Point Park women's basketball program. The Pioneers' program was started in 1978-79, and their all-time record now stands at 300-533.
Although it took the program nearly 32 years to reach the 300 mark, this year's edition of the Pioneers has a chance to post a winning record for the first time since they were 19-12 in the 1993-94 season. The program has just five winning season over its first 31 years.
Much like the first meeting of the season, Point Park jumped out to an early lead. Austin scored seven early points to help the Pioneers jump out to a 9-2 lead at the 15:41 mark.
Austin scored 14 points in each half, and she made 11 of 20 shots on the night. The Penn Hills, Pa., native is averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game.
Point Park led 19-16 before rattling off a 13-0 run to builds its biggest lead of the first half, 32-16, with 5:43 to go in the half. Kristen Veseleny (Pleasant Hills/Thomas Jefferson), who scored 12 points for the Pioneers, finished off the spurt by nailing a 3-pointer and scoring inside.
Notre Dame struggled from the field all night, but it mustered a 12-0 run to trim Point Park's lead to 32-28 with 1:26 before half. Despite shooting 11 of 34 (32 percent) from the field and 0 of 7 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Falcons only trailed by five, 35-30, at the break.
Joncelyn Peterkin (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) tallied 13 points and nine rebounds for the Pioneers, and the 6-2 sophomore center hit a jumper to give Point Park a 47-43 lead with 13:57 to go.
But then Notre Dame put together a 10-2 run to lead 53-49 on two free throws by Yvette Hunter at the 9:18 mark. But then Veseleny connected from long range to ignite an 11-3 Point Park run as the Pioneers jumped back out in front, 60-54, with 4:34 to go.
Austin scored the final five points of the rally, and her 3-point play gave Point Park the lead for good, 58-56.
McNealy, who led the Falcons with 21 points, hit a jumper to draw Notre Dame within 60-58, but Austin answered with a jumper at the other end to give Point Park breathing room at 62-58 with 3:23 to play.
After that, Point Park made 6 of 8 free throws the final three minutes to preserve the win. The Pioneers shot 71 percent (12 of 17) from the line, which is 12 points higher than their season average.
Notre Dame was held to 35-percent shooting (23 of 66) and struggled from long range, making only 2 of 16 (13 percent) from beyond the arc.
Point Park shot 39 percent (26 of 67), and held a 46-44 edge in rebounds.
Ashley Henderson (Greensburg/Greensburg Central Catholic) tallied eight points and six assists for the Pioneers while teammate Brittney Wilson (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) added seven points and seven rebounds.
Besides McNally's 21, the only other Notre Dame player in double figures was Paris Pugliese with 15. McNally scored 20 points in the first game versus Point Park.
The Pioneers have won their last two AMC games, and they will have their work cut out for them if they are to make it three conference games in a row. The Pioneers welcome Cedarville, the No. 3 team in NAIA Division II, to CCAC South Gymnasium for an AMC game Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets (19-3, 10-1) are in first place in the AMC, and they defeated Point Park, 83-64, Dec. 30 in the second game of the Northwood (Fla.) Classic. Cedarville was ranked No. 11 at that time.
At 7-5 in the AMC, Point Park is one of seven teams in the 14-team league that has at least seven victories.
Pictured above: April Austin drives to the basketball versus Ursline in Tuesday night's game. The freshman guard had 28 points Thursday vs. Notre Dame. Photo by Murphy Moschetta.