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Point Park women (9-3) knock off #25 Notre Dame, Henderson scores 25 points

Dec. 30, 2010

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio – The Point Park University women’s basketball team upset host team and NAIA Division II #25 Notre Dame (OH), 63-62, Thursday night in the first round of the Notre Dame Holiday Tournament.

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Pictured: Ashley Henderson had 25 points for Point Park Thursday night. File photo by Chelsey Engel.

The Pioneers improved to 9-3 for the first time in school history and won their sixth game in a row behind a game-high 25 points from Ashley Henderson, a senior guard from Greensburg, Pa. The 5-10 Henderson was 7 of 16 from the field, knocked down 4 of 6 3-pointers and connected on 7 of 9 free throws. 

Point Park advances to Friday afternoon’s championship game versus perennial NAIA power Shawnee State, a 68-66 winner over Lake Erie in Thursday’s other opening-round game. Shawnee State (11-3) played in the NAIA Division II national title game last season, but the Bears made the move up to NAIA Division I this year.

Notre Dame (11-4) entered Thursday’s game having won 10 of 12 games to earn the #25 ranking in the latest NAIA Division II poll.

Point Park, meanwhile, is just one victory shy of tying a school record for consecutive wins. The Pioneers won a record seven games in a row in 1983-84 on their way to an 18-8 season.

Friday’s championship game will tip off at 2 p.m. Full game coverage can be found at www.pointpark.edu/athletics including Live Audio via WPPJ-AM 670 and the MSA Sports Network and Live Stats courtesy Notre Dame sports information.

The Pioneers had three players in double figures as Joncelyn Peterkin tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kristen Veseleny chipped in season highs of 10 points and eight rebounds. Peterkin, a junior center from West Mifflin, Pa., notched her second double-double of the year. Veseleny is a junior guard/forward from Pleasant Hills, Pa.

Point Park had to hold on to win Thursday after building a nine-point lead, 63-54, with under three minutes to play. Although Notre Dame responded with an 8-0 run to cut it to 63-62 with 51 seconds left on pair of free throws by Tracy Payne,  those were the last points scored by either team.

In a frantic final 30 seconds, Point Park missed the front end of two one-and-one free throws, but Notre Dame missed a jumper on the other end on both occasions. The second miss was an errant 3-point attempt by Notre Dame’s Kealy McNally with two seconds left. Time ran after the ball came off the rim.

Notre Dame was just 3 of 25 from 3-point range, and Point Park held the Falcons to 32-percent shooting overall (21 of 66).

Point Park ended up shooting 36 percent (21 of 59) for the game, although the Pioneers struggled from the field early. Point Park started the game 3 of 14 from the floor to fall behind, 16-9 after 9:23.

The Falcons went on to lead 23-16 and 28-22 before Point Park mounted a 7-0 run, capped off by Henderson’s trey, for a 29-28 lead late in the half. But Notre Dame ended up taking a slim lead, 32-31, into halftime.

Point Park made a couple of runs in the second half, but Notre Dame responded each time. Henderson nailed a 3-pointer for a 47-40 lead midway through the second half, but the Falcons bounced back to make it 47-46, a few minutes later.

Peterkin’s 3-point play and a trey by teammate April Austin gave the Pioneers a 53-46 advantage with 8:08 to go. After Notre Dame got within 55-52, Henderson wrapped a pair of 3-pointers around a Veseleny jumper for an 8-0 run and a 63-54 lead with 2:46 to go.

Center Yvette Hunter led Notre Dame with 14 points. McNally, the Falcons’ leading scorer at 12.8 ppg, was held to six points and 10 rebounds on 3 of 13 shooting. Chelsea Andorka chipped in 10 points off the bench for the Falcons, who held a 52-42 edge on the boards.

Henderson’s 25 points were four off her career high and one off her season high set versus nationally ranked Walsh (Nov. 30). The 5-10 guard moved into 12th place in school history with 955 career points. Henderson is in her third year with the Pioneers, and she passed Karen Meyer (953 points) Thursday night.

Friday’s opponent in the championship game, Shawnee State, erased a late, five-point deficit to hand Lake Erie (2-7) its fifth loss in a row. The Bears were led by Abby Ballman, who had a career-high 27 points. Shawnee State beat Point Park in the only meeting last year, 82-74, at home.