Point Park wins KIAC Tournament title with 67-59 victory over Asbury (Ky.)
March 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. ET
By Zachary Weiss, Point Park Athletic Communications Student Assistant
PIPPA PASSES, Ky.-- The Point Park University women’s basketball team erased a 10-point, halftime deficit to defend its KIAC Tournament title defeating Asbury (Ky.), 67-59, Saturday afternoon in the championship game.
No. 1 seed Point Park (29-4, 13-4 KIAC) trailed No. 2 Asbury (25-7, 13-4 KIAC), 33-23, at the half but turned the tide the final 20 minutes by outscoring the Eagles, 44-26.
Point Park has earned its third straight berth into the NAIA Division II national tournament with the KIAC title giving it the conference’s automatic bid. The Pioneers will be one of 32 teams in Sioux City, Iowa, March 12-18, and the bracket will be announced March 5.
Kayla Kiriau led Point Park in the championship game with18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and 8 of 10 from the foul line. The point guard from Wellington, New Zealand made four free throws the final minute to seal the win.
Frehman forward Carly Forse, from Bishop Canevin High School, scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half, and Alexa Xenakis also had 16 points on 4 of 9 from 3-point range.
For Asbury, Ellie Steiner scored 13 points to lead the Eagles, and Annissia Wood added 11 points.
Trailing by 10 at the half, the Pioneers had to make some adjustments.
"I told the kids we were switching to a 2-3 zone and to pack it in," Grenek said. "We were going to try and win the game five minutes at a time. We weren't trying to get all 10 points in one series. We chipped away a little bit and won every five minutes."
Point Park had a tough start as leading scorer and rebounder, center Sam Weir, picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game. As a result, Asbury was able to limit the Pioneers’ post touches and use its depth to build the lead.
Point Park struggled from the field making only 9 of 32 field goals, which would have been worse had they not made 4 of 9 from 3-point range. The Pioneers shot a 28.1-percent clip the first half and also had 10 turnovers. Haley Sauer hit a jumper with less than a minute left in the first half to get the Pioneers within 10 points at the break.
The Pioneers responded in the second half opening on a 17-7 run to tie the game, 40-40. Forse scored eight points in the spurt – three straight baskets to start the second half then a jumper to tie at 40-40. Katresa Savisky followed Forse’s first three buckets with a trey as the Pioneers were on their way.
The teams then traded the lead back and forth, however, Weir got into foul trouble picking up her third and fourth fouls. Grenek went with Anna Shaw to replace Weir in the game and Shaw provided six minutes getting three crucial rebounds during this stretch.
Point Park had a slim lead of 56-54 with Xenakis drilled a 3-point shot, one of her four makes from long range, to stretch the advantage to five, 59-54, with 3:14 left. Asbury was unable to convert on the offensive end, and Kayla Kiriau made six free throws in the game's final minutes to seal the game.
Time was not on Asbury's side, and the game ended on a Steiner three point miss. Point Park got the rebound and with 10 seconds left dribbled it out for the victory.
After shooting 28 percent the first half, Point Park shot 47 percent the second half and 37 percent for the game. The second half comeback included leading Asbury, 44-26, on the scoreboard and 27-18 on rebounds.
The Point Park defense held Asbury to just eight baskets the second half, 25-percent field goals (8 for 32) and 2 for 15 from long range. The Pioneers won the rebounding overall, 45-35.
Point Park, which is in the 'others receiving votes' section of the NAIA Division II Top 25 Poll at No. 27 overall this week, will learn its seeding and first-round opponent in the national tournament when the bracket is announced March 5.
Point Park has won its third-consecutive conference tournament championship with the last two coming in the KIAC. The Pioneers were the 2011-12 AMC Tournament champions.
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