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Strawson’s Buzzer Beater Lifts Men’s Basketball Past Salem State, 69-68

Springfield, Mass. – December 9, 2008John Strawson banked in a three-pointer as time expired to lift the Springfield College men’s basketball team to a thrilling 69-68 victory over Salem State on Tuesday evening in Blake Arena.

With the win, the Pride now stand at 6-2 on the year, while the Vikings drop to 6-2 as well.

After Brennan Bennett missed a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining, Matt Cavalieri grabbed the rebound and called timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Pat Crean fired his inbound pass from midcourt to Strawson. The senior center caught the ball, turned around, and banked home a trifecta with a hand in his face to give the Pride a one-point victory. As fans rushed the court, the refs met and confirmed that the shot was good as the Pride picked up its sixth win of the season.

Springfield’s fate seemed bleak as it trailed by five with 1:30 to go after a Ricky Ogboin layup. However, Springfield chipped away at the lead as Crean hit two of three from the free throw line after being fouled on a three-point attempt, cutting the lead to three. Salem State was unable to convert on its chances as it missed five of six at the charity stripe in the final 42 seconds. After Brian Clark made one-of-two, Ryan Blackmon cut the lead to two with a deep two-pointer with 10 seconds left, setting up Strawson’s last second heroics.

It appeared as though the game would not need such heroics as the Pride blew open an eight-point halftime lead to a 21-point advantage with 15:22 left in regulation after a Danny White three pointer.

However, the Vikings showed resilience, as they went on a 25-3 run over the next 7:25 to take a 54-53 lead, capped off by a Dylan Holmes jumper. Salem State led by as many as six with 3:15 left in the second half.

Cavalieri was all over the court in the win, collecting a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Crean chipped in with 15 points, six boards, and four assists, while Blackmon added 10 points and five boards. Strawson finished with nine points and six rebounds.

Holmes led the way for the visitors with a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds. Brian Clark added 10 points and eight rebounds, while Ogboin added 10 points of his own.

For the game, the Pride shot 45% from the floor, while the Vikings finished shooting 38% from the floor, including going 16-for-32 in the second half. Neither team shot well from the free-throw line as Salem State went 13-for-27 and SC shot 11-of-20.

The Pride return to action on Thursday evening when it travels to take on Rhode Island College at 7:00 pm.