Point Park Comes Back To Defeat Carlow


Point Park women’s basketball coach Tony Grenek won his 100th game with the team Wednesday against Carlow. Photo courtesy Stephen Pope

Head coach Tony Grenek won his 100th career game, and the Point Park University women’s basketball team ended a two-game, home losing streak with a 69-64 victory against KIAC opponent Carlow Wednesday as part of the Nancy Gallagher Cancer Awareness Game and #SavingAiden event.

The victory places the Pioneers at 23-4 and 10-3 KIAC while Carlow falls to 11-12, 2-10 KIAC.

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For Grenek, win No. 100 came in just his 123rd game as a women’s head coach. He is 100-23 (.813) in his four-year career, all of which has come at Point Park. The Pioneers have won 23, 25, 29 and now 23 games under his watch.

Ja’Nia McPhatter’s 13 points led Point Park while senior forward Natasha Moss scored 12 points off the bench.

Junior guard Alexa Xenakis also had 12 points, and sophomore guard Celina DiPietro added an additional 10 points as a reserve. Sophomore forward Carly Forse had seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the victory.

The Pioneers out-rebounded the Celtics 41-34, had a 25-9 advantage in bench points and won the second-chance points battle, 17-8.

Carlow guard Erin DiSanti led all scorers with 26 points, and guard Liz Catoe added an additional nine points off the bench. DiSanti led a big Carlow charge that nearly resulted in a upset by the Celtics.

Point Park started the game up, 6-0, however Carlow quickly countered to tie the game. It was then that the Pioneers went on another run, this time scoring the next seven points to extend the lead to 13-6.

The Celtics took their first lead 20-18 with 7:40 to play in the first half when Catoe converted a 3-point basket. The advantage lasted 22 seconds.

Point Park then went on a 19-9 run to end the first half, which resulted in a 37-29 lead at the break. The Pioneers shot 43.3 percent from the field the first 20 minutes.

But Carlow battled back in the second half and tied the score at 39-39 with 14:54 to play.

The Celtics took their biggest lead, 53-45, with 10:35 left in regulation, which also occurred on a Catoe 3-pointer. By that point, Carlow had outscored Point Park, 24-8, in the second half. But that was Carlow’s last basket for approximately four minutes.

The Pioneers chopped away at the lead and eventually a jumper and a pair of free throws by Forse gave Point Park the lead, 62-61, with 2:03 left.

Then, two important plays down the stretch involved intentional fouls by DiSanti on center Baylee Buleca and Ja’Nia McPhatter, respectively. That allowed Point Park to regain control of the game.

Point Park did not make a field goal the last 3:16 but instead scored its final nine points from the free-throw line to win. The Pioneers were 9 of 14 from the foul line the last two minutes.

The win was the 100th for coach Tony Grenek with the Pioneers. Grenek is in his fourth overall season with the team.

“Someday I’m going to look back on it and reflect and be proud of the accomplishments,” Grenek said. “I’ve been fortunate to coach such great kids and to be a part of this program. If you looked at our bench tonight we had Maeve Gallagher guest coaching and both April Austin and Brittany Dunmire as assistant coaches and they were on teams from my first two years. For them to want to come back and be a part of my staff, that shows great gratitude on my part that they keep wanting to give back.”

Point Park also celebrated its Nancy Gallagher Cancer Awareness Game. Gallagher’s daughter Maeve was a three-sport athlete in her time at Point Park (women’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball). Nancy Gallagher was a guest coach during the Feb. 2013 game in which over $3,000 was raised for cancer awareness, and Grenek shaved his head following the contest to support women’s cancers. She passed away Nov. 25, 2013 and was 2-0 as the team’s guest coach.

The evening also had a special cause, which was “Saving Aiden”. Aiden Zangrilli is a two year old that is battling Leukemia and is looking to find a stem cell donor match. Representatives from Central Blood Bank were in the lobby of the CCAC South gymnasium to try and get attending fans to join the national donor database for “Be The Match”. According to Central Blood Bank, the game drew 45 donors which is the most of any drive of its kind. Zangrilli himself could not attend the contest as he was receiving a third round of treatment for leukemia.


Point Park will celebrate its Senior Day Saturday at 2 p.m. against IU East with Vianka Cotton, Kayla Kiriau, Natasha Moss, Danica Adams and Maria Romano all being recognized for their respective contributions to the Pioneers.

My take: There are a lot of different ways to break this one down. I will start by saying what I am sure the vast majority of those at CCAC South were thinking, Point Park was outplayed for the majority of the game. Whether it was just being tired, not adjusting to losing Kelly Johnson for the majority of the game due to the flu or playing down to the opponent I am unsure but it may have been a little of each. Point Park had previously played its two worst home games of the season and it is a tough monkey to get off of the back. Johnson went just four minutes in the game and the team missed her steals and tenacity. This team often goes as Johnson goes and when she’s not on the floor it can be tough to adjust. Carlow took advantage of several Pioneer lapses in this game but went stagnant in the last few minutes and that in addition to the two intentional fouls really ended its hopes of winning. $2,000 was raised for Saving Aiden which was great to see. It was an emotional game for sure that received a lot of support from a lot of people. It was also nice to see some local media covering the game as well. It was Point Park’s largest media gathering for an event that I can remember and I know the support meant a lot to several people.

Lastly, Grenek got his 100th win and I can honestly tell you that no man deserves it more. On a personal note Grenek has always been great to me and at times we have had a father-son like relationship. I have not let that interfere with my reporting but Grenek is likable, tells you how he feels and has the respect of the players. Often times when players finish their college careers, they rarely come back but with Grenek several alumni have come back with some being fixtures at games. That is the sign of a great coach in my eyes and its why the Pioneers have gone from a team trying to get to .500 to a team that has a legitimate chance of getting to Iowa each year.

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