Point Park Season Comes To An End In KIAC Semifinals


The Point Park women’s basketball team lost 65-57 to Asbury in the KIAC Tournament Semifinals. Photo courtesy Stephen Pope.

The Point Park University women’s basketball saw its quest for a fourth consecutive NAIA D-II National Tournament berth fall short in the KIAC Tournament semifinals falling 65-57 Saturday at Asbury.

“I told the girls they had a great season and nothing to be ashamed of at 25-5 and we’ve just got to get better and play smarter in a lot of ways,” coach Tony Grenek said.

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Point Park (25-5, 11-3 KIAC) was led by sophomore forward Carly Forse’s season high 21 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Kayla Kiriau had 13 points in what may be the final game of her Pioneers career. Sophomore guard Kelly Johnson had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Pioneers forced 20 Eagles turnovers and won the points in the paint battle 38-30.

Asbury (25-6, 10-4 KIAC) also had three scorers in double figures. Guard Brittany Warren had 15 points, forward Savannah Taylor added 11 points and eight rebounds and guard AJ Lewis contributed 10 points. Sophomore forward Kali Whiteside also was a key factor with her 11 rebounds.

The Eagles outscored the Pioneer bench 20-5 and after trailing 20-19 at the half in rebounds, won that battle 51-35.

“I knew it was going to be a battle, obviously both teams are mirror images and like to push it,” said coach Jason Price. “I knew when it came down to it was who was going to guard at the end. I think we both played solid defense, but we were able to hit a couple of big shots down the stretch that kind of separated us. If you can hit a couple of big shots, that often separates who wins and who loses.”

Both teams started slowly in the first half however Point Park ended up opening the contest on a 12-4 run with 12:16 remaining in the first half. The Pioneers led by as many as nine points in the opening 20 minutes, however at halftime the score was 32-31 in Point Park’s favor.

“That’s what I came in at halftime and said to our team. We had their entire team in foul trouble, playing against a lot of their back-ups, we were playing tremendous defense and weren’t capitalizing,” Grenek said. “In that one sequence we were up six before the half, fouled a three point shooter, they got the offensive rebound and lay it in, and then we try to hold for one shot and we flung it up with 14 seconds left and they scored. We didn’t play smart enough, I’m proud of our effort, we really played hard, it’s just when you play a great team, you have to take advantage when they are down and we did not do that in the first half.”

“We definitely didn’t play our best and to be quite honest, Point Park outplayed us, they had more effort and were tougher,” Price said. “The second half, we were able to challenge the toughness and pick it up. Our girls felt good down one and not playing their best, knowing they had a chance in the second half.”

Point Park stretched its lead to 42-35 when Forse made a lay-up with 16:02 to play. Asbury would respond with a 7-0 run to tie the game.

The Eagles grabbed their first lead of the half with 10:27 when Taylor converted a two point basket. Asbury’s advantage was 47-46.

Point Park held its last lead of the contest with 9:33 to play when Forse converted two free throws. Asbury then went on a 6-0 run to re-take the lead.

“I think we got a little bit tired and they were able to escape four of their five starters having two fouls in the first half,” said Grenek. “They were well-rested, well-coached and were great players. They were able to come out and execute. Being up one to start the second half we had a couple of good looks at the hoop that we missed and it kind of snowballed from there. Another poor effort from the foul line and basically that’s been us all year. A lot of that was the energy we exerted on the defensive end. Shaniya Rivers came in, especially in the first half and did just a tremendous job on the defensive end.”

Asbury continued to hold the lead although Point Park cut its deficit from 10 points to five with 4:01 to play. Point Park shot 2 of 12 from three point range, one of which a Natasha Moss with 1:14 left to put the Eagles lead at 63-57, however the Pioneers ran out of time.

Asbury now moves on to the KIAC Finals against IU East which will be played Tuesday. IU East defeated top-seeded Rio Grande 102-90. The winner of this contest will earn the second and final automatic KIAC berth into the NAIA D-II National Tournament.


Point Park has to rely on an at-large berth in order to make the national tournament, but if not, the loss ended the careers of Kayla Kiriau, Natasha Moss and Vianka Cotton.

“I told them that you went 54-10 these past two seasons,” Grenek said. “Do you know how many teams in the country and players would love to play for teams that were 54-10, had a conference championship and a chance to experience nationals? We beat NCAA D-II schools, NAIA D-I schools, beat nationally ranked schools. Out of the 30 games we played this year, if I’m not mistaken 17 or 18 were on the road. We had a tremendous season and nothing to be ashamed about.”

My Take: An unfortunate loss for Point Park but once again it lost the rebounding battle by double digits. The urgency was there in the first half but dwindled a bit in the second half. A lot of the problems that plagued Point Park reared its head once again in this game. The killer was the aforementioned end of first half sequence where the lead fell from six points to one. Asbury was given second life and with the starters fresh from all the foul trouble, it was too much for the Pioneers to overcome. I would highly doubt that the rankings get down to Point Park for a national tournament berth so this likely ends its season.

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