Point Park Comes Back From Double Digits Down To Beat Midway


The Point Park women’s basketball team overcame a 15 point deficit to defeat conference opponent Midway. Photo courtesy Point Park Athletics

The receiving votes Point Park University women’s basketball team overcame a 15 point deficit on the road to win its eighth consecutive game by a 77-69 score Saturday against KIAC opponent Midway.

Point Park (19-2 6-1 KIAC) was once again led by sophomore guard Kelly Johnson who scored 23 points and added six steals. Sophomore guard Celina DiPietro scored a season high 15 points on 6-8 shooting from the field in 19 minutes off the bench. 10 of her points came in the second half. Senior forward Ja’Nia McPhatter scored eight points, grabbed eight rebound and recorded seven steals. The Pioneers forced 26 turnovers and grabbed 20 steals.

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“It was a tremendous win, I am so proud of my team,” coach Tony Grenek said. “They fought so hard and could have given up. They came out flat, we were missing shots and were sluggish on defense and it’s to be expected. We didn’t get back to the hotel after our game yesterday until 11 PM and we played a game 14 hours later. I’m just so proud of them and the way they fight. We get every opponent’s best shot, they want to beat Point Park and I can’t say enough about my team’s effort.”

Midway (8-10, 4-2 KIAC) had four players score in double figured and the team out-rebounded the Pioneers by 20. The Eagles were led by guard Stephanie Lewis who scored 14 points. Other double figure scorers were Me’Lisa Martinez (12 points and 11 rebounds, eight of which came in the first half), guard Jasmine Johnson (11 points) and McKinzie Laswell had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Midway opened the game taking a 16-3 lead with 11:20 to play. The lead extended to 26-11 with 8:32 remaining in the first half.

“That team was just a tired and exhausted team,” said Grenek. “We traveled far on Thursday, played a very physical game Friday against Brescia. We got an early lead on Brescia, but Brescia doesn’t quit. They continue to guard and bang with you so it takes a toll on your body. I don’t know too many teams in this conference play in the country that can play like this on back to back days and we seem to do it all the time.”

The Pioneers however would outscore the Eagles 22-11 the rest of the way to trail 37-33 at halftime. Point Park shot 32.4 percent from the field in the first half, whereas Midway shot 51.4 percent.

“Cutting the deficit from 15 points to four before halftime just shows our team’s character,” Grenek said.
Point Park came out motivated to start the second half cutting its turnover total from 11 in the first half to six.

DiPietro was a major player in allowing the Pioneers to take the lead. DiPietro made two three point baskets and later found Natasha Moss on a shot fake for an easy lay-up. She also recorded two consecutive lay-ups which allowed the Pioneers to grab its first lead of the contest at 55-54.

“A lot of people don’t realize that Celina was out at the beginning of the year with a concussion and she also had a couple of medical issues,” said Grenek. “Her best ball is yet to come. She’s a great basketball player, and what’s nice is she’s just hitting her peak now and it’s almost playoff time. That’s to be expected of her and I’m proud of her.”

Another big play occurred with 4:30 remaining in the second half. Down 67-62, Midway attempted to speed up the pace of the game, McPhatter had a big block which fired up the team.

Point Park stretched its lead to 72-62 with 1:32 to play and were able to hold on to get its 13th road victory of the season.

The Pioneers went 3-0 this week winning at home against Cincinnati Christian and on the road against Brescia as well as Midway. This should allow them to improve its stats from 26th and just outside of the receiving votes section of the NAIA D-II Poll. #22 Madonna, #23 Mayville State, #24 Briar Cliff and #25 Webber International all lost as well. The next top 25 poll will be released Tuesday at 5 pm.


Point Park will next face IU Southeast Friday at 5:30 pm. These two teams are atop of the North and South Divisions meaning the contest may prove crucial come tournament time when it comes to seeding.

My take: This was an enormous win for Point Park. Some may read Grenek’s words about playing back to back trips as sour grapes. This would be the easy way out, however it truly is not. I currently am finishing this recap on the same bus ride from Kentucky. These bus rides are extremely tiring and having done them regularly for two years, they are not comfortable and mentally draining. That’s what makes efforts such as these all the more impressive. Grenek challenged his players in the first half to play the way he knew they could and they did just that. It would have been easy to roll over and die, however that is not this team’s nature. Point Park knows each contest is tough because it has won the KIAC Tournament each of the past two years, but it welcomes that and have proven itself both at home and on the road. Friday will be its biggest test this season.

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