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Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic: Becker Races to an 80-68 Win Over Men’s Basketball; Bates Handles Castleton State, 90-50, in Game #2

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — January 2, 2009 — Travis Suber of nearby Longmeadow High School scored 27 points to lead his Becker College men’s basketball team to an 80-68 victory over Springfield College in the first round of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic at Springfield College’s James Naismith Court in Blake Arena earlier this evening.

With the win, Becker of Leicester, Mass. is now 6-2, while Springfield falls to 6-4. Becker will play Bates (5-4), a 90-50 winner over Castleton State tonight, in the championship game Saturday at 7:30 pm. Springfield will play in the consolation game at 3:00 pm against Castleton State (0-8)

Suber, a 5-10 senior guard from Springfield, Mass., scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half in leading his Hawks to a 43-33 advantage at the intermission. At that point, he was 8-of-12 from the field and 1-for-3 from 3-point range. By game’s end, he had scored 27 points, adding 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. He finished 11-of-17 from the field, mostly mid-to-long range jumpers.

Two others scored in double figures for the Hawks. They were sophomore guard DJ Exum (New London, Conn.) with 17 points (and 4 assists), and sophomore center Trey Jacobs (Lexington Park, Md.) with 12 points (in just 11 minutes of action).

For Springfield, the leading scorers were junior forward Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) with 16 points, and senior center John Strawson (Torrington, Conn.) with 12 points. Senior guard Danny White (Melrose, N.Y.) and freshman center Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, R.I.) tallied 8 points apiece. Leading scorer Ryan Blackmon, a junior guard from Stamford, Conn., was held to six points.

Becker led in this game from start to finish. Suber led off the scoring with a free throw with 19:10 left. He then made a jumper with 18:26 left, followed by a lay-up by Exum with 18:08 left. That gave the Hawks a 5-0 lead. A lay-up by Suber with 11:22 left gave Becker a 21-10 advantage. On three occasions, Springfield trailed by 17 in that first half, the last coming at 37-20 with 4:13 left on a dunk by Suber.

The Pride cut it to eight (37-29) with 2:14 to go on a lay-up by White. Two free throws by Crean with one second left cut the margin to 10 (43-33) at the half. Crean scored 14 of his 16 points in that first half, but found himself in foul trouble a good part of the evening.

In the second half, Springfield outscored Becker, 12-7, in the first five and a half minutes. And SC trailed by just 5 at 50-45 with 14:30 left. But Becker scored the next eight points in the next minute and a half, and the Hawks would eventually lead by as many as 19 points (79-60) with 2:08 left on a lay-up by Exum. SC outscored Becker, 8-1, to end the game.

For the game, Becker shot a crisp .544 from the field (31-of-57), while Springfield shot just .396 (21-of-53). Each team made five treys. Neither team shot well from the free throw line. SC shot .568 (21-of-37), while Becker shot an even less favorable .481 (13-of-27). Springfield out-rebounded the Hawks, 41-35, but committed 30 turnovers to Becker’s 26.


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — January 2, 2009 — In the second game of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic in men’s basketball tonight, it was Bates College defeating Castleton State, 90-50, at the James Naismith Court at Springfield College’s Blake Arena.

With the victory, Bates is now 5-4, while Castleton State falls to 0-8. Bates will now play Becker College (6-2) in the championship game at 7:30 pm Saturday, while Castleton State will play host Springfield (6-4) in the consolation game at 3 pm.

For the Bobcats, 16 players suited up for this contest, and 14 of them scored. Only one player played more than 17 minutes, and that was junior guard Chris Wilson (Brewer, Me.), who played 25 minutes. Three Bates players scored in double figures, and they were freshman forward John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) with 12, and junior forward/center Jimmy O’Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) and junior forward/center Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) with 10 apiece. Nine Bobcat players corralled four rebounds or more, led by Wirth with eight.

For the Spartans of Castleton State, sophomore guard Seth Harrington (No. Bennington, Vt.) led all scorers with 16 points. Senior guard Kevin Cayea (Red Hook, N.Y.) tallied 15. Leading rebounders with six each for the Spartans were freshman forward Keith Schneider (Benson, Vt.) and sophomore forward Nathaniel Hansen (Bradford, N.H.).

Bates led this contest from start to finish, just as Becker did in game #1. Senior guard Scott Place (Bridgewater, Mass.) hit a 3-pointer 41 seconds into the game, and the Bobcats were never headed, building leads of 5-0 at the start and 42-23 at the half. The 19-point lead was Bates’ largest in that first half. When O’Keefe hit a jumper with 11:57 remaining in the game, Bates led 60-29. When freshman guard/forward Reid Christian (Pownal, Me.) hit a 3-pointer with 4:03 left, Bates had its largest lead of the game (44 points) at 86-42.

Bates out-rebounded Castleton State, 63-33, in the game’s most telling team statistic.