Point Park drops opener to unbeaten Rio Grande, Henderson & Austin score 25 each
Nov. 12, 2010
RIO GRANDE, Ohio – The Point Park University women’s basketball team got 25 points each from its top two scores April Austin and Ashley Henderson, but the Univ. of Rio Grande turned in just enough clutch plays in the final minute to top the Pioneers, 89-84, Friday night in the first round of the Bevo Francis Tournament.
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Rio Grande (3-0), which is hosting the tournament for the 28th year, remained unbeaten thanks to the timely shooting of Jenna Smith and Kaylee Helton. Smith, who led all scorers with 33 points, hit her seventh 3-pointer of the night to give the RedStorm an 82-79 lead with one minute to go.
Helton, who had 19 points, followed that up with a trey of own for an 85-81 lead. Henderson answered for Point Park with a 3-pointer at the other end to pull the Pioneers (0-1) within 85-84, but Helton re-established the three-point lead on a jumper with 15 seconds to go.
Point Park called a timeout trailing 87-84, but Henderson’s potential game-tying 3-pointer was off the mark. Rio Grande rebounded and made two free throws with two seconds left to ice the game.
Point Park, which returns four starters from last year’s team that went 14-13 overall, is opening its season at the Bevo Francis Tournament for the second year in a row. Like last season, the Pioneers will meet Midway (Ky.) in the consolation game tomorrow at 11 a.m. The Eagles lost to Daemen, 80-70, Friday.
Austin and Henderson, a pair of guards who started their careers at NCAA Division I schools, combined for their most points ever. The 50-point output for the Point Park tandem eclipses their previous best of 46 combined points last year versus Daemen.
Point Park held a 36-31 lead at halftime, and the Pioneers enjoyed a brief, double-digit lead of 42-31 early in the second half. But then Rio Grande began its second-half charge, one that saw the RedStorm score 58 points over the final 20 minutes.
Rio Grande’s second-half outburst spoiled a very good shooting night for Point Park, which shot 53 percent (31 of 59) from the field and 56 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point range.
Rio Grande shot 10 points lower at 43 percent overall, but it made five more treys than Point Park, which proved to be the difference in the final score. Rio Grande attempted 37 3-pointers and made 14 shots for a 38-percent clip from beyond the arc.
Leah Kendro had 21 points for Rio Grande. Like Smith, Kendro is a senior who has over 1,000 points for her career.
In addition to their 25-point efforts, Henderson and Austin added seven and five assists, respectively. Henderson is a Greensburg Central Catholic grad who started her career at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, and Austin is a North Catholic grad who transferred from the Univ. of Dayton.
Point Park junior Joncelyn Peterkin, 6-2 center from West Mifflin, Pa., scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. Anna-Maria Boshkova, a 6-1 sophomore from Bulgaria, scored 11 points in her first game since transferring from Fairmont State.
Point Park opened up the second half on an 8-0 run for the 42-31 lead. But Rio Grande quickly drew things even at 41-41 thanks to a 13-2 run. Helton hit a trey to give Rio Grande a 59-53 lead with 10:25 remaining, but a 3-pointer from Boshkova and a 3-point play from Henderson got Point Park within 62-61.
The scoring pace picked up quickly as Helton and Kendro hit 3-pointers on consecutive Rio Grande possessions for a 71-67 lead. But Point Park answered with a trey from senior Heather Swedish and yet another 3-point play the old-fashioned way from Henderson, which put the Pioneers ahead, 73-71, with 4:00 remaining.
The teams traded baskets and free throws over the next three minutes, which paved the way for Smith’s big 3-pointer to break the 79-79 tie with under a minute to go.
Point Park led by as many as 15 in the first half, 32-17. The Pioneers arrived at that lead thanks to Austin, who scored 13 points as part of a 15-2 run. Austin had 16 points the first half and made 4 of 5 3-pointers.
Henderson scored 17 of her 25 after halftime, and she made 8 of 10 free throws on the night.
Point Park defeated Midway, 97-88, in the second game of the 2009-10 season. Austin led the Pioneers with 19 points in her Point Park debut. Midway (1-4) is an NAIA Division I school and a member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Eagles were 9-22 last year, and they are coached by former Rio Grande all-conference player Karley Mohler.