RIO GRANDE, Ohio -- Fighting to keep its playoff hopes alive, Point Park University men's basketball made a big comeback but could not come through with the victory. The result was an 84-71 loss at the University of Rio Grande on Friday night, a River States Conference game.
Point Park (8-19, 5-11 RSC) trailed by 18 early in the first half, buts its 7-0 run coming out of the halftime locker room had things tied up at 44-44. That was one of three ties in the second half, which seemed a long way off when Rio Grande (12-17, 7-9 RSC) led, 26-8, in the early going.
Although the Pioneers drew even several times, they were never able to take the lead. Point Park's Lassana Konate threw down a dunk to cut Rio Grande's lead to 69-67 with under five minutes to go. But Rio Grande ended the game on a big run to clinch itself a playoff spot.
Point Park needed a win at Rio Grande in order to keep its playoff hopes alive. The loss eliminates the Pioneers from contention since Rio Grande has clinched fourth place in the RSC East Division and the final postseason spot.
Rio Grande point guard Will Hill, who did not play in an 82-57 loss at Point Park on Dec. 2, scored 27 points and needed only 13 shots to do it. He made 5 of 7 treys and 8 of 10 free throws to get the RedStorm out to the early lead and keep it in front.
Abe Eze added 19 points and nine rebounds for Rio Grande, which had four players in double digits. Eze led the effort on the boards, which had Rio Grande lead, 42-27, on the glass.
Rio Grande shot a strong 52 percent and made 6 of 11 from beyond the arc. Point Park came in at 46-percent field goals but was just 8 for 32 (25 percent) from deep.
Despite trailing by 18, the Pioneers got within 44-37 at the half. The 7-0 run to start the second half and draw even was followed right up with a 7-0 run by Rio Grande as the RedStorm were ahead, 58-51.
Rajahpillay hit three 3-pointers in the second half to keep Point Park close. Two of those pulled the Pioneers to within 60-56 and later 63-61.
Point Park ends the season on Saturday at No. 11-ranked WVU Tech at 3 p.m. The Golden Bears beat Carlow on Friday night, 139-72, and will be playing for a chance at the RSC regular-season title and an automatic NAIA bid.