New London, Conn. - January 20, 2018 - Behind 34 points from sophomore guard Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.), the Springfield College men's basketball team pulled off a 79-74 win over conference-rival Coast Guard in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday afternoon in New London.
Coast Guard continues to struggle in conference play this season, falling to 1-5 in conference play and 9-6 overall. Winners of their last five games, Springfield is now 11-6 on the year and 5-1 in league play. The victory lifts them to a tie for the top spot in the conference with MIT. Springfield College shot 27-of-60 (45.0%) in the victory, while it held the Bears to just 28-of-74 (37.8%) shooting on the night, including just 13-for-36 from the field in the second half. Springfield College also held a narrow 43-41 advantage on the glass over 40 minutes of play.
Ross led all players with his 12th double double of the season as he turned in 34 points and 13 boards, marking the third game this season where he has eclipsed the 30-point mark. Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) netted 15 points to go along with 4 assists, Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) notched 12 points, 11 boards, four assists, and two blocks, and Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) pumped in six points and three blocks.
Leading the Bears was Packy Witkowski (Melrose, Mass.), who netted 26 points and nine rebounds, while Justin Kane (Arnold, Md.) and Sean Graytok (Greensburg, Pa.) chipped in 13 points apiece.
After a slow start for the Pride, Ben Diamond (New York, N.Y) and Ross both banged home three pointers to give Springfield a 21-16 lead with 9:51 left in the first half, but Coast Guard quickly answered with a steal and dunk by Noah Baldez (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) to make it 23-20, Pride, with 8:44 to play in the first half. WIth 6:34 left on the clock, the Pride regained the lead with a big jumper from Post, before Ross knocked down a pair of free throws a to go along with a layup to solidify the Pride's 36-35 lead going into the break. Springfield out rebounded the Bears 22-17 in the first half while also shooting 46.7 percent from the floor.
A pair of layups from Eckles and a three pointer from Ross started the second half for the Pride, putting them on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half. However, Coast Guard clawed their way back into the game, making it 47-46 after Witkowski splashed home a couple top of the key jumpers. An and-one layup for Witkowski started an 11-4 run for the Bears to put them up 59-53 with 9:01 left in the contest. A trio of McNulty layups and a big three pointer from Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) built the Pride's lead back to 63-61 at the 6:18 mark before a Kane triple and a layup from Greytok put the Bears up 70-69 with 2:27 left in regulation.
Ross shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the line in the last two minutes of the game to ensure a victory for the Pride. After Springfield's terrific work from the charity stripe, the Pride stopped Coast Guard on two big three point attempts in the last minute, and Post drained a free throw to seal the 79-74 win.
Springfield will return home to host WPI in their seventh straight conference game on Wednesday, January 24th, at 8 p.m. in Blake Arena.
Photo by Reef Rogers