No. 25 Point Park smothers IU Kokomo in KIAC victory, 88-55
Jan. 10, 2015 at 11:00 p.m. ET By Zachary Weiss, Point Park Athletic Communications
The Point Park defense pressed IU Kokomo into 31 turnovers and had 24 steals. Photo by Karina Graziani.
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. — No. 25 Point Park University women’s basketball capped off a 2-0 week with an 88-55 victory against Indiana University Kokomo Saturday at CCAC-South Gym.
Sophomore point guard Kelly Johnson had a huge game for the Pioneers (14-2, 3-1 KIAC) with 21 points, 10 steals, eight rebounds and six assists. The Mt. Lebanon High School product led a defensive effort that forced 31 turnovers and picked up 24 steals.
Point Park turned the defensive pressure into a 30-5 advantage in points off turnovers and a 28-4 edge in fast-break points.
Johnson’s 10 steals are one shy of tying the school record for most steals in a single game trailing only Joyce Phillips’ 11 steals on Feb. 3, 1984. Within range of a triple- or perhaps quadruple-double, Johnson and the starters were pulled for the last five minutes when the Pioneers up by 36 points., 79-43.
Junior guard Alexa Xenakis added 13 points on the game while senior guard Kayla Kiriau contributed 11 points. All 12 Pioneers who dressed for the game saw game action in the contest.
IU Kokomo (5-10, 0-2) was led by junior guard Hope Wagner’s 16 points, while Dejianna Butler added 10 points.
“The win is crucial, and coach (Grenek) told us we are not just playing a conference game, but we are also playing in our division against a new team that we weren’t sure what they were bringing with it being a team full of freshmen,” Johnson said. “We never underestimate teams, and we are just playing hard and executing properly.”
Point Park scored the first six points of the game with Xenakis making two 3-pointers to start things off. The Pioneers opened the game on a 20-8 run culminating on another 3-point basket, this one from Celina DiPietro.
The Pioneer defense kept the pressure up throughout, and the 31 turnovers by IU Kokomo were the most it’s had all season. It took nearly 10 minutes for Point Park to allow 10 points. Additionally, the Pioneers’ 24 steals were a season high.
IU Kokomo cut its first half deficit to 28-18 with 6:27 remaining, however, Point Park went on a 16-6 run to double its lead to 44-24 at halftime. The Cougars had already committed 18 turnovers by the break.
In the second half, Point Park’s advantage remained at 20 points at 61-41 with 8:07 to play. However, in less than three minutes, the Pioneers went on a 18-2 run to stretch the lead to 79-43.
Xenakis and Kiriau both converted 3-point shots to start the rally, and sophomore guard Carly Corcoran made two treys of her own to keep in going.. A Xenakis lay-up, a Natasha Moss jumper and a Baylee Buleca lay-up accounted for the rest of the scoring during the run.
“Everyone can shoot on our team, even our posts, you saw Carly (Forse) make a three the last game,” said Johnson. “We knock our shots down in practice so (Grenek) expects us to do it in the game.”
Point Park will next face Penn State Fayette Monday at 5:30 pm. These two teams played Dec. 9 with the Pioneers winning 71-38.
Follow the Pioneers on Twitter @PointParkSports