Springfield, Mass. - November 21, 2017 - The Springfield College men's basketball team jumped out to a 20-point second-half lead and held on for a 73-67 victory over Keene State in a non-conference meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Blake Arena.
Springfield College heads into Thanksgiving Break with a 2-0 record, while the Owls, who advanced to the NCAA Championship Sweet 16 a season ago, dropped to 1-2 on the year.
Sophomore forward Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) led all players with 22 points and 10 caroms, while Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) stuffed his stat sheet with 17 points, 10 boards, seven steals, and six assists. Senior captain Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) added nine points and Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) chipped in eight points off the bench. The Pride finished the game shooting 48% from the from (25-42) and made the most of their attempts from the charity stripe, going 18-for-23.
Keene State was paced by 20 points from Miguel Prieto (Andover, Mass.), while Dizel Wright (Springfield, Mass.) chipped in 17 points and nine boards and Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) produced 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and four steals. The Owls held a 38-33 edge on the glass and outscored the hosts in the paint, 48-32, but were hampered on a 1-for-19 performance from beyond the arc.
It was a sluggish start for the Pride, as it missed its first six shots and fell behind 8-0 just under five minutes into the contest. However, Springfield's offensive found its rhythm and responded with eight-straight points of their own, capped off by a triple from Ross from the left wing at the 13:30 mark.
After the Owls got a turnaround jumper by Prieto to push their lead to 22-18 with 7:06 to go, Springfield benefitted from five-straight points by Post to kickstart an 11-0 surge. The burst was capped off by an Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) inside finish to force the visitors into a timeout with 5:05 left in the first half, trailing 29-22. Ross later delivered four-straight points to give Springfield a 35-26 edge with under two to play, only to have Keene State close out the frame with a 6-0 run in the final 37 seconds to trim Springfield's lead to 35-32 at the break.
In the first half, the Owls did the majority of their offensive damage in the post, outscoring Springfield 30-18 in the paint, and holding a 21-14 edge on the glass.
Sparked by back-to-back dunks in transition by Ross and Post, Springfield College produced a 7-0 run in the first 2:50 of the second half to open up their largest lead of the contest at 42-32. The Owls would battle back to within 44-36 on another bucket by Prieto at 15:44, only to have Springfield seize control of things with a 12-0 burst, using another trifecta from Earle to make it a 56-36 game with 10:10 remaining. Keene State responded with a 11-2 run of their own, using five buckets in the paint to make Springfield head coach Charlie Brock call for a timeout of his own holding onto a 58-47 advantage with 6:01 to go.
Post drilled a fadeaway on the baseline at the end of the shot clock for the 66-55 lead with 2:07 remaining, but the Owls would not go away, battling all the way back to 70-67 with under a minute on the clock following a pair of freebies by Nichols. However, free throws by Post in the final seconds iced the win as Springfield knocked off Keene State for the first time since 2013.
The Pride will wrap up its three-game homestand to open the season when it hosts Becker at 7 p.m. in Blake Arena on Tuesday, November 28.