Worcester, Mass. - January 4, 2017 - The Springfield College men's basketbal team built a 19-point second-half lead and held on for a 71-63 win at WPI in its New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener in Harrington Auditorium.
The Pride won its fourth-straight game to improve 7-5 on the season. The Engineers, who were receiving votes in the latest D3hoops.com national poll, dropped to 9-3.
First-year Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.), who was named the NEWMAC Co-Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday, tied a career-high with 29 points while adding seven rebounds, five steals, and four assists. Teammate Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) scored 25 points, the most in his collegiate career, as he canned five three-pointers and Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) chipped in 10 points and six boards.
After a pair of ties and lead changes, Springfield embarked on a 14-3 run to claim the 27-16 advantage with 5:18 remaining in the first half. The spurt began with back-to-back threes by McNulty and Post, with the latter beating the shot clock. The lead increased to as much as 14 thanks to another McNulty trifecta with 3:10 on the scoreboard.
After closing the first half on a 17-7 run to head into the locker room with a 36-23 advantage, the Pride's lead ballooned to 19, 45-26, when McNulty drilled a trifecta at the 15:43 mark of the second half. However, WPI stormed back and took a 55-54 lead with 6:10 remaining.
The next four minutes were frantic, featuring four lead changes and a pair of times, including at 63 apiece on a pair of Ross free throws with 1:58 to go. On the ensuing possession WPI was whistled for an illegal screen and the Pride capitalized when Ross pulled up for an elbow jumper to go ahead for good at 65-63 with 1:36. From that point forward, the Springfield defense stiffened, forcing the Crimson and Gray to misfire on its last four shots from the floor while McNulty, Ross and Post all canned two free throws for the guests in the final 18 seconds to secure the victory.
Sean Doncaster ended with 16 points and was followed by Ian Converse with 15. Dave Zielinski added 11 of the 25 bench points and Jake Wisniewski collected eight rebounds.
For the second time this season, Springfield will host the nation's top-ranked team in Blake Arena when it takes on Babson on Saturday at 2:00 pm. The Pride previously bested then-No. 1 Amherst on December 14.