Point Park women beat Asbury in KIAC first-place showdown behind Kiriau
Jan. 25, 2014
Kayla Kiriau went to the line for the winning free throw with 0.5 seconds left. Photo by Michelle Montana.
By Zachary Weiss, Point Park Athletic Communications Student Assistant
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – The Point Park University women’s basketball team trailed by five against KIAC opponent Asbury University with 1:18 remaining, but Kayla Kiriau scored the Pioneers' final seven points resulting in a 79-78 win Saturday.
Kiriau, a junior point guard from New Zealand, led Point Park (20-2, 7-2 KIAC) with 23 points and five assists in the rematch of last year’s KIAC Tournament Finals won by Point Park. Freshman forward Carly Forse had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Kiriau made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left for the victory, which gave Point Park the edge for first place in the KIAC over Asbury (16-4, 7-2 KIAC). Both Point Park and Asbury are in the 'others receiving votes' section of the NAIA DII Top 25 Poll with Point Park coming in at No. 26 overall.
Kylee Gorby led Asbury with 23 points and four assists. Sam Burr added 12 points, and she hit a couple of big jumpers in the second half, including one to put the Eagles up, 77-72, with 1:18 left.
But the Pioneers won behind Kiriau, who made 8 of 10 field goals, 3 of 4 3-pointers and registered a career-high of 23 points. The victory gave Point Park its third straight 20-win season while ending Asbury’s 10 game winning streak.
“It’s a great win, we’ve been preparing for it for a while,” Forse said. “We obviously know they’re a good team. We struggled in the beginning defensively, but we pulled it out in the end and we’re all pretty happy with the win.”
Although Point Park held an early 6-2 lead, Asbury recovered to bring the lead down to 15-14. The Pioneers responded with a 6-0 run to take a seven point lead. The seven point advantage held for most of the first half. When A.J. Lewis made a layup just before the buzzer, Asbury cut the Point Park lead to 46-41 lead at halftime.
The Pioneers had a misstep to open the second half as their lead was cut to one point, however, they responded strongly highlighted by a Celina DiPietro 3-point shot as part of an 8-2 run to take a seven point lead once again, 56-49, with 14:29 left.
Head coach Tony Grenek called a timeout after this and it proved to be a mistake, as Asbury fought back once again though, and Gorby and Burr hit 3-point shots to give the Eagles a 67-65 lead.
Asbury had all the momentum after it turned a seven-point deficit into a six-point lead, 71-65, at the 4:35 mark. And although Point Park battled back to tie the game at 72-72 on Kiriau’s drive, Burr went on a 5-0 run to put her team up 77-72 with 1:18 to play in regulation. Burr hit two big treys in the second half.
This was where Kiriau took over making a 3-point shot off the glass to cut the lead to two points.
“We’ll take anything we can get at that point,” Forse said of the shot.
After Annissia Wood split two free throws, Kiriau found herself with the ball and took another 3-point shot, this one also going in to tie the game at 78.
“I wasn’t thinking,” Kiriau said. “It was just reaction.”
On Asbury’s next possession, Gorby’s layup was blocked by Sam Weir, and when Alexa Xenakis grabbed the rebound, Grenek used his final timeout with 15.1 seconds left.
The inbounds play was to Forse who would get the ball back and miss a layup with two seconds left. Although Burr got the rebound, she was called for a foul putting Kiriau at the line with just 0.5 seconds left.
Asbury iced Kiriau with a timeout, and she missed the first free throw and smiled. She then made the second one to give Point Park the lead.
Asbury had 0.5 seconds left, and following another timeout, Gorby missed a shot at the buzzer that would have given the Eagles a victory.
The Pioneers won despite being out-rebounded 51-44 including 21-10 on the offensive side. Both teams combined for only 19 turnovers in the game.Point Park shot 43 percent, and Asbury shot 39 percent. Point Park was just 4 for 21 from outside the arc, but Kiriau came up with three big ones when the Pioneers needed them.
Point Park finishes with a 3-0 week and has a good chance of moving back into top 25, when the next NAIA Division II poll comes out Tuesday afternoon.
The Pioneers will have a break before finishing its January schedule at Cincinnati Christian Friday.
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