Point Park's upset bid comes up short versus NAIA DII No. 2 Indiana Southeast
Feb. 8, 2014 at 9:50 p.m. ET
Robbie Heatherington makes a move versus IU Southeast on Saturday at CCAC-South.
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. -- The Point Park University men's basketball team nearly pulled one of the biggest upsets in NAIA Divsion II this year but had its upset bid come up short in a 95-89 loss to No. 2 Indiana Southeast on Saturday at CCAC-South Gym.
Point Park (10-14, 5-9 KIAC) trailed by 15 points in the first half and by 12 points in the second half but put together a big surge to lead, 80-79, with 5:48 left.
But Indiana Southeast (17-3, 11-0 KIAC) stayed unbeaten in the KIAC by hitting some big 3-pointers and free throws in the closing minutes.
Senior guard Gabe McNeal scored a game-high 34 points for Point Park and nearly willed the Pioneers to their first-ever win over a top-five team. The 6-2 shooting guard from Richmond, Va., made six 3-pointers and poured in 23 points after halftime to lead Point Park's second-half charge.
Point Park outscored Indiana Southeast, the highest scoring team in the country, 53-51, in the second half. McNeal hit five 3-pointers the second half, including one that ignited a 9-0 run to surge the Pioneers in front, 72-69, with 8:37 left.
McNeal hit again from the outside to knot things up at 77-77 at the 6:13 mark, and teammate Matt Noszka converted a tough and-1 down low for a slight lead of 80-79 with 5:48 to play.
But Kevin Mitchell and Kegan Clark, who had 20 and 17 points, respectively, to lead Indiana Southeast, each hit a 3-pointer as the Grenadiers worked an 87-83 lead with 3:48 remaining.
And although the Grenadiers twice led by five points in the final two minutes, 90-85 and 92-87, Pioneers point guard Robbie Heatherington set up teammates T.J. Lanier and Josh Pohlot for layups as Point Park was within 92-89 with 40 seconds left.
Point Park fouled, and even though Aishon White missed both free throws for IU Southeast, he got the rebound on the second miss, and the Pioneers had to foul again. After Jake Simpson made 1 of 2 foul shots on his trip to the line, Point Park turned it over, which led to two free throws by Cameron Mitchell with just seven seconds left to ice it, 95-89.
McNeal was four off his career-high of 38 earlier this year at Indiana Kokomo. He made 12 of 24 field goals and also added seven rebounds. He entered Saturday needing 71 points for 1,000 in his two-year career at Point Park, and he cut that total nearly in half. He has 963 with three regular season games remaining.
Five of the six players who played for Point Park scored in double figures with Pohlot putting in 14 points, Nick Brown 12, Noszka 10 points and 11 rebounds and T.J. Lanier chipping in 11 points off the bench. Heatherington had eight points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals while upping his NAIA DII-best assists average to 7.4 per game.
Indiana Southeast had five players reach double digits with two of them coming off the bench -- forward Greg Magee with 18 and white with 12. Magee threw down two big, alley oop dunks midway through the second has for a 56-45 lead for the Grenadiers.
Point Park shot 57 percent from the field and made 7 of 15 treys the second half. Point Park shot 51 percent and hit 10 of 28 3-pointers for the day. Indiana Southeast shot 44 percent, which came in under its season average of 52 percent field goals.
The Grenadiers led by as many as 15 points in the first half despite shooting only 39 percent the first 20 minutes. Indiana Southeast got out to a 14-6 lead, but a 12-3 Point Park run had the Pioneers up 18-17 midway through the half.
With the score tied at 22, Indiana Southeast showed its talent with a 20-5 spurt to take control, 42-27, with 2:35 before the half. But Point Park responded scoring nine of the final 11 points of the half, including a home run, full-court, inbounds pass from Brown to Matt Noszka, which led to a layup at the buzzer to pull the lead into single digits, 44-36.
Despite putting a scare into the highly ranked Grenadiers, it was the third-consecutive KIAC home loss for the Pioneers, who are now 5-9 KIAC. Point Park is currently in the eighth and final playoff spot, a position that would play at top-seed Indiana Southeast in the first round Feb. 25 if it holds true.
Point Park's final KIAC road game is next Saturday, Feb. 15 at Asbury (Ky.) (4 p.m.). Point Park's final two games of the regular season are KIAC contests at home Feb. 21-22 versus Cincinnati Christian and Indiana East.
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