Pictured: Gavin Rajahpillay of PPU. Click the image above for game highlights. Photo by Sam Robinson. Video by Josh Croup.
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. -- Point Park University men's basketball pulled an upset of No. 7 IU East on Friday night, 79-76, for a big River States Conference victory at CCAC-South Gym.
The Pioneers (8-17, 5-8 RSC) were in need of making up ground as they started this weekend on the outside looking in on the RSC East Division playoff picture. But with all five starters in double figures versus IU East (19-7, 10-3 RSC), the Pioneers struck a win that some in the conference may not have thought they would get coming down the final stretch of the season.
Gavin Rajahpillay posted 18 points, six assists and hit a big 3-pointer with 1:00 left for a 77-73 lead. That capped off a 7-0 run in which the Pioneers snatched victory from defeat.
Jaylen Mann put up 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Pioneers. None of his rebounds was bigger than the offensive board with 11 seconds left -- his sixth one of the game. That rebounded a missed shot with Point Park holding on to a 78-76 lead.
The ball eventually went to Rajahpillay, who was fouled with 1.4 seconds left. He made the first free throw, and although he missed the second, the clock ran out before the Red Wolves could get a decent look.
Fousseini Konate added 14 points and eight rebounds on 6 of 8 from the field for the Pioneers. Asim Pleas scored 14 points with 12 coming the first half. Art Christian totaled 11 points, six rebounds and three steals as all five starters registered double digits.
Point Park had a lead of 41-37 at the half, and it was Mann and Pleas who carried the Pioneers the first 20 minutes. Mann had 12 points the first half, and he already had 10 and a couple of treys when Point Park was ahead, 24-21, midway through.
Neither team led by more than six points at any point of the game. There were nine ties and 15 lead changes in all. A big one game with 4:00 left when IU East's Jaylen McKay broke free for a fast-break layup and a 71-70 lead.
But the Pioneers went ahead with their late run, which got a start with a driving basket by Rajahpillay. He then grabbed a steal and got it up ahead for Konate for a breakaway layup and a 74-73 advantage.
Jordan Furlow, who led all scorers with 29 points for IU East, made a clutch and-1 with 37 seconds left to bring the Red Wolves within 78-76. But the Pioneers came up with a couple of stops and a couple of big rebounds defensively by Rushan Roberts to help seal the win.
Point Park returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 4 with another RSC game versus Ohio Christian (14-12, 8-5 RSC). Tipoff is 2 p.m. at CCAC-South for Senior Day. Watch Live on the Point Park Sports Network on Stretch Internet with audio simulcast on WPPJ-AM 670 and WPPJradio.com.
Point Park is still 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the division trailing Rio Grande (6-6 RSC) for that position. The Pioneers have three more conference games starting with OCU.
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