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Late free throws lift Daemen to AMC women's basketball win over Point Park

Feb. 18, 2010

AMHERST, N.Y. – The Point Park University women’s basketball team trimmed a double-digit, second-half lead down to a single point in the final minute, but Daemen was 4 of 4 from the foul line the last 15 seconds to come away with a 64-59 victory Thursday night.



Point Park (14-12, 10-8 AMC) trailed the American Mideast Conference game, 44-34, early in the second half, but the Pioneers worked the deficit down to one point, 60-59, with a minute left.

Daemen (17-11, 13-5) turned the ball over on its next possession, and although Point Park missed two field goals in a row, the Pioneers retained possession with 19 seconds left. After Point Park inbounded the ball, Daemen got a steal and had the ball with 15 seconds left.

Daemen’s Megan Morrell was fouled, and she knocked down both ends of the one-and-one for a 62-59 lead.

Point Park’s April Austin (Penn Hills/North Catholic), who led the Pioneers with 16 points, missed a 3-pointer on the other end, and Point Park was forced to foul with 3.7 seconds on the clock.

Tara Bailey, an 83-percent foul shooter, then put the game out of reach by making two free throws in the double bonus for a 64-59 Daemen advantage.

Point Park entered Thursday’s game in the seventh-and-final playoff spot in the AMC. With the loss, the Pioneers moved into a three-way tie for seventh with idle Northwestern Ohio (10-8 AMC) and Notre Dame (OH) (10-8). Point Park has one game left at Roberts Wesleyan Saturday (2 p.m.).

A loss Saturday would eliminate the Pioneers from playoff contention, and a win does not necessarily clinch a postseason berth on its own. Even with a win Saturday, Point Park will need to wait until all the results of other games are in to determine its fate.

Other games Saturday that will impact the playoff bracket include Daemen at Houghton (11-7), Notre Dame at Walsh (14-4) and Northwestern Ohio at Wilberforce (3-14).  Mt. Vernon Nazarene (10-6) visited Wilberforce Thursday for the first of three games in three days, but that score was not available.

Daemen, which has won six of its last seven AMC games to take control of fourth place in the standings, was 11 of 14 from the foul line Thursday night versus Point Park. The Wildcats entered the game shooting 74 percent on the year.

Point Park, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, was 18 of 22 from the charity stripe for 82 percent.

Free throws proved to be important as the game wound down. Point Park trailed 59-56 before a pair of free throws by Marissa Reinhard (Plum/Plum) cut the Daemen lead to 59-58 with two minutes to go.

Daemen made a free throw on its next possession for a 60-58 edge, and Austin made 1 of 2 foul shots on Point Park’s next trip to pull the Pioneers within one, 60-59.

Daemen forward Sarah Soroka was the star of the game with 29 points and 15 rebounds. The 6-1 junior was 13 of 19 from the floor, and she scored the Wildcats’ final two field goals to help hold off Point Park.

Each of Soroka’s last two baskets re-built a three-point Daemen lead, the second of which put the Wildcats up, 59-56, with a little over two minutes to play. Soroka entered the game averaging 18.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Soroka and Co. were forced to hang on late because Point Park got back into the game behind the scoring of Austin.

Daemen took a 30-22 lead at halftime after holding Point Park to 21-percent shooting the first 20 minutes. Daemen went on to lead 38-28 and 44-34 before Austin, a 5-6 freshman point guard, turned things around for the Pioneers.

Trailing 44-34, Austin scored the first eight points of a 10-1 Point Park run that made the score 45-44 midway through the second half.

The Penn Hills native nailed a trey to get the rally going, and then made a transition layup after grabbing steal. Austin then hit another long-range jumper before two free throws by Ashley Henderson (Greensburg/Greensburg Central Catholic) cut the deficit to 45-44. Henderson finished with nine points.

Sophomore post players Terrica Jones (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) and Joncelyn Peterkin (West Mifflin/West Mifflin) combined to score the Pioneers’ next 10 points to keep Point Park within one, 55-54, as the game entered the final stretch.

But behind Soroka’s late baskets and the some clutch free-throw shooting, Daemen had enough to hang on for the win.

Jones, a 5-10 forward, finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Peterkin added eight points.

After the cold shooting in the first half, Point Park ended up shooting 29 percent (19 of 65) from the field. The Pioneers were 3 of 11 from long range. Daemen shot 48 percent (24 of 50) from the field and held a 39-37 edge on the boards.

The only lead that Point Park had was 1-0 in the early going.