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Women's Basketball

Point Park women fall at Asbury (Ky.) in KIAC Tournament semis, 65-57

Updated -- March 1, 2015 at 11:45 a.m. ET

Carly Forse had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. She pictured in last year's KIAC finals vs. Asbury.

Box Score & Play by Play

By Zachary Weiss

WILMORE, Ky. – The Point Park University women’s basketball team saw its quest for a fourth consecutive NAIA Division II national tournament berth very possibly end after Saturday night’s loss, 65-57, at Asbury (Ky.) in the KIAC Tournament semifinals.

“I told the team they had a great season and have nothing to be ashamed of at 25-5 overall. And we’ve just got to get better and play smarter in a lot of ways,” coach Tony Grenek said.

Point Park (25-5, 11- 3 KIAC) has an outside shot an at-large bid to the national tournament, for which the 32-team bracket will be announced March 4. Although technically still alive, chances are high the season has come to an end with 25 wins in 30 games. Point Park was rated last week in the ‘others receiving votes’ section of the Top 25 Poll at tied for No. 29 overall.

Sophomore forward Carly Forse led Point Park with a season-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Kayla Kiriau had 13 points in what may be the final game of her Pioneers career. Sophomore guard Kelly Johnson had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Pioneers forced 20 Eagles turnovers and won the points in the paint battle, 38-30.

Asbury (25-6, 10-4 KIAC) also had three scorers in double figures. Guard Brittany Warren had 15 points, forward Savannah Taylor added 11 points and eight rebounds, and guard AJ Lewis contributed 10 points. Sophomore forward Kali Whiteside also was a key factor with her 11 rebounds.

The Eagles outscored the Pioneers, 20-5, in bench points and after trailing 20-19 at the half in rebounds, won that battle 51-35.

“I knew it was going to be a battle, obviously both teams are mirror images and like to push it,” said Asbury coach Jason Price. “I knew what it was going to come down to was who was going to guard at the end. I think we both played solid defense, but we were able to hit a couple of big shots down the stretch that kind of separated us. If you can hit a couple of big shots, that often separates who wins and who loses.”

Both teams started slowly in the first half, however, Point Park stretched this out with a 12-4 run with 12:16 remaining in the first half. The Pioneers led by as many as nine points in the opening 20 minutes, however at halftime the score was 32-31 in Point Park’s favor. Asbury scored the final six points of the first half.

“That’s what I came in at halftime and said to our team,” said Grenek. “We had their entire team in foul trouble, playing against a lot of their back-ups, we were playing tremendous defense and weren’t capitalizing,” Grenek said. “In that one sequence we were up six before the half, fouled a three point shooter, they got the offensive rebound and lay it in, and then we try to hold for one shot and we flung it up with 14 seconds left and they scored. We didn’t play smart enough, I’m proud of our effort, we really played hard, it’s just when you play a great team, you have to take advantage when they are down and we did not do that in the first half.”

“We definitely didn’t play our best and to be quite honest, Point Park outplayed us,” said Price. “They had more effort and were tougher. The second half, we were able to challenge the toughness and pick it up. Our girls felt good down one (point) and not playing their best, knowing they had a chance in the second half.”

Point Park stretched its lead to 42-35 when Forse made a lay-up with 16:02 to play. Asbury would respond with a 7-0 run to tie the game.

The Eagles grabbed their first lead of the half with 10:27 when Taylor converted a two point basket. Asbury’s advantage was 47-46.

Point Park held its last lead of the contest with 9:33 to play when Forse converted two free throws. Asbury then went on a 6-0 run to re-take the lead.

“I think we got a little bit tired and they were able to escape four of their five starters having two fouls in the first half,” said Grenek. “They were well-rested, well-coached and were great players. They were able to come out and execute. Being up one to start the second half we had a couple of good looks at the hoop that we missed and it kind of snowballed from there. Another poor effort from the foul line and basically that’s been us all year. A lot of that was the energy we exerted on the defensive end. Shaniya Rivers came in, especially in the first half and did just a tremendous job on the defensive end.”

Asbury continued to hold the lead although Point Park cut its deficit from 10 points to five with 4:01 to play.

Point Park shot 2 of 12 from three point range, one of which a Natasha Moss with 1:14 left to put the Eagles lead at 63-57, however the Pioneers ran out of time.

Asbury now moves on to the KIAC finals against IU East, which will be played Tuesday. IU East defeated top-seeded Rio Grande, 102-90. The winner of this contest will earn the second and final automatic KIAC berth into the NAIA D-II national tournament.

Point Park has to rely on an at-large berth in order to make the national tournament, but if not, the loss ended the careers of Kayla Kiriau, Natasha Moss and Vianka Cotton.

“I told them that you went 54-10 these past two seasons,” Grenek said. “Do you know how many teams in the country and players would love to play for teams that were 54-10, had a conference championship and a chance to experience nationals? We beat NCAA D-II schools, NAIA D-I schools, beat nationally ranked schools. Out of the 30 games we played this year, if I’m not mistaken 17 or 18 were on the road. We had a tremendous season and have nothing to be ashamed about.”

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