Springfield, Mass. - February 15, 2017 - With a postseason berth on the line, the Springfield College men's basketball team prevailed in overtime over Clark, 86-81, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) game in Blake Arena on Wednesday evening.
With the victory, Springfield improved to 13-11, including 7-6 in conference play, as it clinched in a spot in the upcoming NEWMAC Championship. The loss drops Clark to 13-11, 5-8.
Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) put together a tremendous performance for the hosts, delivering 31 points, 12 boards, four assists, and three steals, while classmate Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) added a double double of his own with 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) registered 15 points and Keegan McDonough (Bath, Maine) hauled in six of the Pride's 17 offensive rebounds as the hosts held a 42-30 edge on the glass.
David Mercier (Milford, Mass.) scored a team-best 20 points for clark, while Lamar Berk (Saint Augustine, Fla.) chipped in 16 points and four steals. John Pisacreta (Andover, Mass.) totaled 11 points and Joe Atkinson (Milford, Mass.) added 10 points. Clark turned 20 Springfield turnovers into 25 points in the setback.
Ross scored Springfield's first seven points of the game, and a McNulty bucket in transition forced the visitors into a timeout trailing 9-2 just under four minutes into the contest. The Cougars would respond with a 9-2 burst of their own, evening the game at 11 following a triple from Matt Woods (Arlington, Mass.), only to have a the hosts answer right back 13-2 surge capped off by a putback from Anthony Reynolds (Springfield, Mass.) at the 8:34 mark. Despite Springfield leading by as many as 12, Clark clawed their way back into the contest, making it a 33-28 game following a three-point play by Mercier with 1:55 left. The Pride closed out the stanza with buckets from Kevin Durkin (Worcester, Mass.) and Post to head into the break holding a 37-28 edge, led by a 13-point, 10-rebound outing by Ross.
Clark benefited from a hot start by Berk, as the senior forward netted eight quick points to help the visitors pull within 42-41 just over five minutes into the second half. An inside score by Ross allowed the Pride to earn a 46-41 cushion, however, Clark responded with a 6-0 burst to take their first lead of the game following an Evan Lerner (Hopedale, Mass.) score at the 11:40 mark. Trey Witter (Unionville, Conn.) got free for a corner three with 9:55 on the clock to put the Pride back on top, 52-49, but the Cougars put together a 12-2 run, as another three from Woods gave Clark its largest lead at 61-54. Out of a timeout, Springfield strung together seven-straight points, with Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) converting down low to tie the game at 61 with 5:45 remaining.
Out of a Pride timeout with 1:30 on the clock, Post came out and finished at the rim and was fouled, converting the three-point play to give the hosts a 67-64 lead. Atkinson converted a pair from the line, and Clark had the chance to take the lead with 24.9 seconds left, but Mercier made just one of two from the stripe. Springfield called for a timeout with 16.5 seconds remaining, however was unable to get off a shot as the game headed into extra time.
Springfield did not trail in the overtime period, as Ross came out on the first possession and drilled a three-pointer from the right wing. Another jumper from Ross made it a 75-71 game with 3:24 on the clock, and after Mercier answered with a key-three pointer from Clark, the hosts benefited from a jumper and two freebies by McNulty to earn a five-point advantage. Clark would get no closer than three and Springfield hit 7-of-8 from the line to seal the important conference win.
Springfield will conclude the regular season on Saturday when it heads to Coast Guard for a 1:00 pm tilt.