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Cougars take control in second half

Cougars take control near end of half

Feb. 21, 2009

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – Mt. Vernon Nazarene ended the first half on a 17-2 run on its way to a 76-45 victory over Point Park in an American Mideast Conference women’s basketball game at CCAC South Gymnasium Saturday.

Point Park (11-14 overall, 4-11 AMC) went on a 7-0 spurt to tie the game at 20-20 with 5:39 left in the first half, but Mt. Vernon Nazarene (22-7, 9-6) took control of the game to build a 37-22 lead at halftime. The Cougars maintained at least a 15-point lead the rest of the way and led by as many as 32, 76-44, with 49 seconds left.

With the win, Mt. Vernon Nazarene locked up one of the final playoff spots in the AMC. The top eight teams in the standings qualify for the postseason, and the Cougars joined Rio Grande (9-6 AMC) as the final two playoff teams.

Brittney Wilson (Pittsburgh/West Mifflin) was the only Point Park player in double figures with 10 points, and the junior guard/forward added five rebounds in the season finale.

The Pioneers shot 28 percent (16-for-57) from the field and had 19 turnovers. Point Park had more turnovers (11) than field goals (nine) the first half. The 45 points marked the second-lowest offensive output of the season. Point Park set a season-low for points in a 51-43 loss to Northwood (Fla.) Nov. 22.

Point Park senior Ashleigh Hays (Pleasant Hills/Thomas Jefferson) had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds in her final game for the Pioneers. Saturday was Senior Day, and Hays (at right) is the only senior and the team captain.

A two-time All-AMC North selection, Hays scored 874 points and grabbed 556 rebounds in three seasons at Point Park. Hays started her career at CCAC before transferring to Point Park for her sophomore season. The 5-9 swing player started all but one game the last three seasons.

Point Park’s leading scorer, Ashley Henderson (Greensburg/Greensburg Central Catholic) scored eight points, and Saturday marked just the fourth time this year that the sophomore guard failed to reach double figures in scoring. She entered the weekend ranked sixth in the AMC in scoring, and she finished the season with a 15.6 points-per-game average.

Amanda Himes, the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder in the AMC, had a game-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds to lead Mt. Vernon Nazarene. Point guard Rachel Fiely is second in the AMC in assists, and she tallied 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Alexis Harkins chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds, and the Cougars held a 48-40 advantage in rebounds. Mt. Vernon Nazarene shot 43 percent from the field.

Point Park’s shooting percentage was hampered by a 2-for-17 (12 percent) performance from 3-point range.
The Pioneers increased their win total from last year by nine wins, and Hays in the only player they will lose to graduation. Point Park entered the weekend with an 11-12 record, but lost to Ohio Dominican, 74-66, Friday to miss out on a chance to finish with a winning record.

If the Pioneers had pulled out two wins on the weekend, they would have posted their first winning season in over a decade. Point Park posted a 7-3 record in non-conference play, and won its last six non-conference contests.

Point Park played the final eight games of the season without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Terrica Jones (Pittsburgh/West Mifflin), who was enjoying a strong freshman season before suffering a head injury Jan. 27. Including Jones (10.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg), seven of the Pioneers’ top 12 players were freshmen or sophomores this season.