Point Park escapes with win over Midway, 82-79, moves on to KIAC semisFeb. 25, 2015
Kelly Johnson drives on her way to 27 points to power Point Park to the win. Photo by Darnell Graham.
By Zachary Weiss
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – The Point Park University women’s basketball team advanced to the KIAC Tournament semifinals for a third consecutive season with an 82-79 home win over Midway (Ky.) in the quarterfinal round Wednesday at CCAC-South Gym.
A close game throughout, it featured 12 ties and nine lead changes. In the end, it was Point Park that improved to 25-4 on the year and eliminated upset-minded Midway (12-15). The Pioneers will travel to Asbury (24-9) for the semifinals on Feb. 28 with a 6 p.m. tipoff in Wilmore, Ky.
It was just a year ago that Midway defeated Alice Lloyd in the same round of the playoffs. The Eagles were picked to finish last in the KIAC South Division and were playing its third game in four days. Midway gave Point Park all it could hald, but the Pioneers were able to overcome McKinzie Laswell’s 31-point performance to reach the 25 win plateau for the third consecutive season.
“Midway deserved to win,” coach Tony Grenek said. “They played harder than us, they executed better and they gave us a lot of fits on their extended 2-1-2 zone. We were very fortunate to win tonight.”
Sophomore guard Kelly Johnson had 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals to power the Pioneers to the win. She now has tied the single-season program record steals with 106. The record-tying steal came with 12 seconds left and Point Park guarding the 82-79 lead.
Sophomore forward Carly Forse added 16 points and five rebounds, senior forward Natasha Moss had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and junior guard Alexa Xenakis scored 10 points. Senior guard Kayla Kiriau contributed seven rebounds and five assists.
The Pioneers forced 27 turnovers by Midway while grabbing 10 steals. Point Park shot 41.3 percent from the field and owned a 22-11 advantage in second chance points. The Pioneers survived 25 turnovers, which were a season high.
Midway was led by McKinzie Laswell’s 31 points and six rebounds, and Me’Lisa Martinez had 20 points in what proved to be each player’s last collegiate game. Laswell scored 16 of her 31 points in the first half consistently driving and beating the Point Park defense.
In the first half, it was the Eagles who controlled things in the early going. But Point Park took the lead for good when Johnson scored eight straight points. Her jumper with 2:25 remaining in the opening 20 minutes led to a lead change, 36-35, and she added a 3-point play to put the Pioneers ahead, 42-39, at halftime.
Midway was the aggressor to start the second half taking a 51-47 lead with 15:47 remaining. Point Park responded with a 12-2 run to take a 59-53 lead over the next 3:34 of game action.
The Eagles battled back, however, and built a 68-64 lead with 6:36 to play after Stephanie Lewis’ jumper. Midway held onto the lead until the game turned when Kamari Boyd, fouled out with 2:47 to play. Boyd led the team with 10 rebounds. After he exit, Johnson nailed two 3-point shots in a row for a 78-77, Point Park lead.
Point Park led, 80-79, going in the final minute, and the two teams combined for eight turnovers during the final 60 seconds.
Point Park got the final cushion it needed when DiPietro sank two free throws with 11 seconds to play. Then Miranda Rone missed a potential, game-tying 3-point shot for Midway as time expired.
Point Park now moves on to play KIAC South Division regular season champion Asbury in the semifinals, which will be played on the road Saturday at 6 pm. The two teams have been the KIAC Tournament finalists for the past two seasons with Point Park winning both championship games. This season, the teams fought to a 66-64 game won by Asbury on Jan. 3.
Asbury was predicted to win the KIAC South Division prior to the start of the season. Earlier this year, the Eagles earned their first national ranking in team history and defeated then-No. 7 College of Saint Mary. Point Park has not yet won a game at Asbury.
“We have a definite challenge ahead of us,” said Grenek. “If we play like we did tonight, we’ll lose by 30. We better fix some things but have two days to do so. It’s nice to be the underdog for once.”
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