Point Park Women Make Case For Rating


Point Park women’s basketball coach Tony Grenek talks to his team during a timeout earlier this season. Point Park is currently 17-2 after a 70-54 conference win against Cincinnati Christian. Photo courtesy Zachary Weiss

The Point Park University women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to six games with a 70-54 victory Tuesday against KIAC opponent Cincinnati Christian at CCAC-South Gym.

Point Park (17-2, 4-1 KIAC) opened the game on a 10-0 run forcing a Cincinnati Christian timeout just over four minutes into the game.

Cincinnati Christian (8-9, 1-2 KIAC) didn’t make its first field goal until the 13:25 mark in the first half as Point Park built an early lead. The Pioneers led by as many as 19 points the first half and were up, 42-26, at the half.

More from Pittsburgh Sports

Point Park was led by sophomore Kelly Johnson, who scored 22 points and added four steals. Senior guard Kayla Kiriau had 18 points and seven rebounds. Celina DiPietro set a season high with 13 points made three 3-pointers – all in the first half — in 15 minutes off the bench.

“I feel really great right now,” DiPietro said. “I’ve worked really hard to get back from my injuries and I feel like we played very well and came prepared.”

The Pioneers had 18 team assists while limiting the Eagles to eight assists while forcing 26 turnovers.

Cincinnati Christian was led by guard Sydney Mason, who scored 15 points and forward Brianna Ruffin who had 14 points. Cincinnati Christian’s leading scorer, forward Amanda Baute, was held to seven points but grabbed 16 total rebounds. The Eagles out-rebounded the Pioneers 56-47.

The Pioneers led 37-18 when DiPietro hit the third of her 3-point baskets with 2:50 left in the first half. DiPietro’s 13 points led the charge from a Point Park bench that provided 25 points.

Point Park’s lead eclipsed 20 points when it went on a 6-0 run in the second half, which after a Shaniya Rivers lay-up, gave the Pioneers a 54-32 advantage. The 22-point lead was Point Park’s biggest of the night with 14:20 left.

Facing the big deficit, Cincinnati Christian, switched to a press defense and went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 12 points with 9:35, 52-34.

The Eagles further lowered the deficit to nine points with 5:24 to play, 59-50, but seven seconds later, Kiriau made a lay-up to bring the lead back into double digits. From there Point Park built its lead and forced five turnovers to pull away.

Point Park has now won 13 of its last 14 games and four straight KIAC games. At 17-2 overall and 13-1 since Nov. 15, the Pioneers remain in the ‘others receiving votes’ section of the NAIA Division II Top 25 Poll that came out Tuesday (Jan. 20). The Pioneers moved up two spots from last week to No. 26 overall in the country in the rankings that came out just before tipoff of the win versus Cincinnati Christian.

Point Park will start a two game KIAC road trip, which opens against Brescia Friday with a tip scheduled for 6 PM Eastern and 5 PM Central. The Pioneers also play at Midway Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern on that trip.

“We have to be prepared and not let up,” DiPietro said.


My take: Point Park frankly should be ranked and the depth of the KIAC is stronger than ever as evidenced by multiple victories over top 15 opponents. Point Park’s offense has a faster tempo than ever under coach Tony Grenek while the defense has become a dominating force once again after a down year in 2013-14. Point Park currently is atop the KIAC North Division and ranked first among conference teams. The stigma around coaches who rate is that the KIAC is a weak conference and they also keep in mind that Point Park has made it to the past three national tournaments and have zero wins to show for it. It is my belief that until someone from the KIAC wins a national tournament game that the conference will not get the respect it so richly deserves. Ratings in the NAIA much as they are in professional sports are not always fair and biases sometimes do get in the way of fairness however Point Park is one of the highest winning programs with 46 wins since the start of the 2013-14 season. Point Park will have to continue to allow its play to do the talking and take care of business during its two game Kentucky road trip which will take place this weekend.

More from City of Champions