No. 23 Point Park falls to IU Southeast in matchup of KIAC leaders, 65-63
Jan. 30, 2015
Point Park's Alexa Xenakis drives past IU Southeast's Mary Dye on Friday night. Photo by Stephen Pope.
By Zachary Weiss
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – The No. 23 Point Park University women’s basketball team lost its first home game of the season to KIAC opponent IU Southeast, 65-63, Friday night at CCAC-South Gym.
The last time the Pioneers lost at home was Feb. 8, 2014, a 70-66 defeat to the same IU Southeast team, a streak of 10 contests.
Point Park (19-3, 6-2 KIAC) had a rough shooting night with just 33 percent from the field and 23 percent (5 for 22) from 3-point range.
Junior forward Ja’Nia McPhatter had a team-high 12 points and had five rebounds. Sophomore guard Kelly Johnson added 10 points while senior guard Kayla Kiriau, junior guard Alexa Xenakis and sophomore forward Carly Forse each contributed nine points.
“This one hurts,” Point Park coach Tony Grenek said. “It wasn’t our night, we did not play well and we did not deserve to win. I give IU Southeast a lot of credit, they played harder than us and they deserved to win.”
IU Southeast (15-7, 6-2 KIAC) was led in scoring by senior guard Heather Wheat, who had a game-high 19 points and recorded five assists. Senior guard Megan Cureton added 18 points.
In a matchup of KIAC divisional leaders, the Grenadiers opened the contest on a 12-3 run in the first 5:37 of the game.
Their lead would grow to as much as 10 points in the first half while Grenek tried a few adjustments to get the Point Park team going.
The Pioneers responded and were able to cut the deficit to 20-17 late in the first half on a jumper by Natasha Moss.
However, Point Park trailed, 34-27, at halftime. That was after the Pioneers shot 25 percent from the field the opening 20 minutes. The 27 points were the second-fewest the Pioneers scored in a first half this year.
IU Southeast extended the lead further as its 7-2 run to open the second half made the lead 41-29 with 17:48 to play.
Point Park was unwilling to give in, however, and in the next 4:01, went on an 11-4 run to cut its deficit to five points.
Though the Grenadiers were able to respond, the Pioneers reluctance to go away persisted, and Forse’s lay-up cut their deficit to 49-48 with 11:06 left.
Again IU Southeast opened up a seven-point lead. However, layups Xenakis and Johnson combined to give Point Park a 59-58 lead with 5:11 to play, its first advantage of the game.
After Grenek called a full timeout, the Grenadiers ended up reclaiming the lead when Cureton drained a 3-point basket with 3:12 left.
After McPhatter hit a jumper to tie the score at 61-61, forward Kaylee Bennett threw up a 3-point shot that beat the shot clock and banked off the glass for a 64-61 lead with 2:18 remaining. It was the last field goal of the game for IU Southeast, which held on to win with defense and a key free throw late.
“That (Cureton’s three) was an awesome three point shot and also Kaylee Bennett hit a big one,” said Wheat. “Late in the game, that’s what we needed.”
Forse took a feed from Johnson and converted a lay-up to cut the score to 64-63 with 1:09 to play. And when Wheat missed a layup at the other end, the door was open for the Pioneers. But Johnson’s driving layup was blocked by center Mary Dye as the Grenadiers came up with the big defensive play.
That kept the teams from cashing in until Cureton split free throws with 16 seconds left and a 65-63 advantage.
Point Park rebounded the second miss and called timeout with 14 seconds remaining. With five seconds to play, Xenakis attempted a 3-point shot. She misfired but grabbed the offensive rebound 30 feet from the basket and on the opposite wing. She turned and fired a desperation 3 with one second left, but it caught back iron and didn’t fall.
Point Park now falls to 43-6 at CCAC South during Grenek’s four seasons with the team, and IU Southeast is the only active KIAC opponent that has won multiple times at CCAC South.
The Pioneers will next play at Carlow Tuesday at 8 pm. The contest will be part of a doubleheader on Carlow’s Pink Zone Night.
“That’s going to be a tough game too, going to Carlow, but hopefully the girls can rebound from this, come back and get back on the right track,” Grenek said.
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