WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. -- Asim Pleas scored a career-high 29 points, and Point Park University men's basketball topped Villa Maria College (Pa.), 87-85, in a non-conference game Wednesday night at CCAC-South.
Point Park (7-13, 4-6 RSC) forced 21 turnovers and grabbed 12 steals, the last one of which was made by Rushan Roberts, who picked up a theft with two seconds left to end Villa Maria's last possession and protect the victory.
Gavin Rajahpillay posted 12 points, nine assists and four steals for the Pioneers. Robert finished with 10 points and four big steals, many of which swung momentum back to Point Park's side in a game in which the Pioneers' lead bounced around from near-double digits to a single posession and back again.
Point Park had a nine-point lead at the half, 44-35. That advantage bumpedup to 11 when Rajahpillay nailed a trey early in the second half, 58-47.
But Villa Maria (12-10) made a comeback, the first of a couple in the half. The Vikings shot 52 percent the final 20 minutes, which made them hard to put away. Eric Waters put up 27 points and 11 rebounds, and he pulled Villa Maria within 60-58 with 13 minutes left.
Point Park pushed the lead back up to 70-62 with Pleas leading the way with 19 second-half points. Villa Maria got back into it at 70-67 at the 8:24 mark only to have the Pioneers build an 82-74 lead with 2:36 left.
Still not going away, Villa Maria's DaJuan Owens nailed a trey for three of his 21 points to make things very interesting at 87-85 with 12 seconds left. Then Point Park missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, leaving Villa Maria a chance to tie or take the lead.
The 21 turnovers forced and 12 steals helped Point Park overcome 6 for 28 from 3-point range. The Pioneers shot 49 percent by making shots from closer in. Pleas led that effort shooting 14 for 20, which was 14 for 17 from inside the arc.
Point Park improved to 6-2 at home and snapped a four-game losing streak, all of which came on the road. It was the beginning of a five-game home stand for the Pioneers, who were 1-11 away from home (0-5 RSC road games).
The Pioneers are 4-1 in conference home games and play their next four RSC games at CCAC-South beginning Friday versus Asbury (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday versus Alice Lloyd (2 p.m.).