Pioneers rally past Houghton after ending game on 17-2 run
Dec. 5, 2009
HOUGHTON, N.Y. - The Point Park University women's basketball team rallied past Houghton, 70-65, in an American Mideast Conference game Saturday after ending the game on a 17-2 run.
Point Park (5-2 overall, 2-0 AMC) trailed 63-53 with 5:32 remaining, but it scored 15 straight points to lead 68-63 with 23 seconds left. Point Park held Houghton (5-1, 0-1) scoreless for 5:28 until Ashley Dupler's jumper cut the Pioneers' lead to 68-65 with four seconds to go.
But Point Park held on for the comeback victory when April Austin (Penn Hills/North Catholic) hit two free throws to ice the game with two seconds on the clock.
The huge comeback gave Point Park its third straight victory and its best start in the AMC in five years. The last time Point Park was 2-0 in the conference was 2004-05. The 5-2 overall record is the fastest start for the Pioneers in over a decade. The Pioneers won for the sixth straight time in December dating back to last year.
Austin, who is Point Park's leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, scored a team-high 15 points. Although the freshman point guard was just 3 of 15 from the field, she converted 9 of 11 free throws.
As a team, Point Park was 17 of 21 from the free-throw line, and their 81-percent foul shooting was a big part of the comeback. The Pioneers entered Saturday's game shooting 51 percent from the charity stripe, but they turned that around in a big way.
During the 17-2 spurt to end the game, Austin had eight points and was 6 of 6 from the foul line. Her jumper brought Point Park within 63-61, and Ashley Henderson (Greensburg/Greensburg Central Catholic) made two free throws with 2:01 to play to knot the score at 63-63. Henderson had 10 points and was 6-for-6 from the foul line.
On Houghton's next possession, the Highlanders missed a layup, got the offensive rebound and then missed two free throws. Then Point Park's Heather Swedish (Sewickley/Avonworth) took advantage of the opening and hit the biggest shot of the game on the Pioneers' next trip. Swedish is pictured left.
Swedish's fourth 3-pointer of the game put Point Park up 66-63 with 1:29 to go, and four free throws by Austin sulked the game away. Swedish, a junior guard, had a season high 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Swedish scored nine points and was 3 of 4 from long range in the first half to help Point Park stay within five, 35-30, at halftime.
Houghton's Leah French scored all 13 of her points in the first half to help the Highlanders take the lead in the locker room. In the second half, teammate Ashley Dupler picked up the scoring with 16 of her 22 points the final 20 minutes.
Dupler, a 6-1 center, also added nine rebounds and eight blocks, and her layup gave the Highlanders a 51-41 lead with 12:13 to play. Point Park cut the lead to five points on three occasions, but Dupler's inside basket rebuilt the 10-point lead, 63-53.
Although Houghton shot 57 percent (12 of 21) from the field the first 14:28 of the second half, the Point Park defense clamped down just in time. After their hot shooting to start the half, the Highlanders were 0 of 5 from the field and 0 of 5 from the foul line while Point Park rattled off its 15-0 run that lasted 5:28.
Houghton shot 47 percent (26 of 56) for the game and 48 percent (13 of 27) the second half. The Highlanders held Point Park to 35-percent shooting from the field, but couldn't overcome their late drought.
Although they shot a low percentage overall, the Pioneers shot 44 percent and made 7 of 16 shots from 3-point range. That, coupled with 81-percent foul shooting and a 42-39 edge on the boards was enough for the Pioneers to secure the win.
For the second straight game, Point Park got a huge boost from its bench in the first half. In Tuesday's AMC win over Wilberforce, Point Park led 36-35 at halftime after its bench scored 29 first-half points. Saturday, the bench players accounted for 19 of the Pioneers' 30 points the first 20 minutes. On the night, Point Park had 33 bench points.
Besides Swedish with12 points, other bench players with strong games were Marissa Reinhard (Plum/Plum), who had seven points and five rebounds, and Joncelyn Peterkin (West Mifflin/West Mifflin), who added five points and five rebounds.
Point Park continues AMC play with two conference games next week. The Pioneers visit cross-town rive Carlow Thursday at 7 p.m. before returning home to play Roberts Wesleyan Saturday at 2 p.m.
Both games will be broadcast live by WPPJ-AM 670 and the MSA Sports Network. Visit www.pointpark.edu/athletics for internet broadcasts.