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Crean Powers Men’s Basketball To 73-69 Win At Wheaton

Norton, Mass. – February 14, 2009 – Junior Pat Crean powered the Springfield College men’s basketball team to a 73-69 win at Wheaton College’s Emerson Gym on Saturday afternoon in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference play. Crean netted a game-high 24 points as the Pride improved to 11-12 on the season, 3-7 in league play. The Lyons, meanwhile, slip to13-10 overall, 5-5 in the league.

With the win, the Pride evened the season series with the Lyons, which topped Springfield by three, 67-64, on January 28th in Blake Arena.

Crean, a forward from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., scored eight of his team’s first 10 points, helping it take a 10-5 lead 4:59 into the contest. Wheaton chipped its deficit to 12-11, with freshman Anthony Weeks (Fitchburg, Mass.) scoring four straight points to make it a one-point game.

After falling behind 19-13, the Lyons put together a 14-3 run during a 4:35 span to grab a 27-22 advantage. Sophomore Anthony Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) scored nine points in that time, while classmate Ryan Sasso (Peabody, Mass.) assisted on three field goals, including an alley-oop pass that was thrown down by junior Jaxon Leo (Leesburg, Va.) at 4:39.

However, the Pride controlled the final 3:53, shooting 4-of-6 during an 11-0 run. Four different players scored to help Springfield take a 33-27 advantage into the locker room. Wheaton outrebounded the visitors 18-12, but committed 12 turnovers to the Pride’s seven. Crean had 15 points, while Coppola had nine in that half.

The visitors extended their run to 13 straight points early in the second half, but Wheaton drew within four points three times before making it a three-point game on three occasions. Freshman Bruno Naylor (Los Angeles, Calif.) went up strong to make it 46-45 at 12:07, and Weeks countered a Springfield three with a long trey to keep it a one-point game with 11:28 to go.

A 5-0 run, capped by a pair of Coppola free throws at 7:50, gave Wheaton a 55-54 edge, its first since fewer than three minutes remained in the first half, but Springfield freshman guard Antoine Hicks (Houston, Texas) canned a three 14 seconds later to put the Pride back in front for good.

Over the final 8:13, the Lyons made just two field goals, both by senior Nick Michel (Hyde Park, Mass.) in the last minute, but stayed close thanks to 12-of-12 free-throw shooting. With a little more than three minutes to go, Wheaton had two game-tying attempts end up off the mark within a 23-second stretch. Michel converted a Sasso dish with 27 seconds left to make it 70-69, but the Pride hit three freebies in the final 26 ticks.

Coppola led the Lyons with 17 points, while Michel had 12 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. Weeks ended with 10 points, Sasso totaled seven points, a career-high seven assists and a career-high-tying seven rebounds, while junior Ben Stehle (Newton, Mass.) notched six boards.

Crean paced Springfield with 24 points, including an 8-of-10 showing at the charity stripe, to go along with a team-high six rebounds, and Hicks added 10 points off the bench. Sophomore forward Matthew Cavalieri (West Warwick, R.I.) tallied 11 bench points.

Springfield will next play its final regular season home game on Wednesday, Feb. 18 versus Babson at 7 pm. It will be Senior Night.