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Wheaton Holds Off Men’s Basketball, 67-64, Despite Second-Half Comeback

Springfield, Mass. – January 28, 2009 – Despite a resilient comeback in the second half, the Springfield College men’s basketball team was edged by Wheaton, 67-64, in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) game on Wednesday evening in Blake Arena.

The loss is the first for the Pride in it’s last three games as it drops to 9-10, 1-5 in conference play, while the Lyons improve to 12-7, 4-2.

With the score tied at 61 all after a pair of Pat Crean free throws, Wheaton’s Anthony Coppola hit a step-back three pointer with 29 seconds remaining in the game to give Wheaton the lead for good. After Crean and Jaxon Leo traded free throws, senior Danny White was fouled and went to the line for two shots with four seconds remaining. After making the first, White missed the second intentionally. Springfield was unable to get the rebound as Anthony Weeks grabbed the board and was fouled. Weeks tacked on one of two from the charity stripe with two seconds remaining as the visitors picked up the three-point victory.

Wheaton expanded it’s six-point halftime lead to 10 after a Ben Stehle three just 1:30 into the second half. However, behind the impressive play of Ryan Blackmon, Springfield took a two-point lead just over four minutes later as the Pride went on a 12-0 run. Blackmon pumped in six points for Springfield in the spurt. The teams would battle back and forth until Wheaton was able to own a six-point lead after a pair of Ryan Sasso free throws with just under five to play. Once again, the Pride clawed its way back as Matt Cavalieri provided a strong low post presence with four of his team-high 16 points, setting up Coppola’s heroics.

The Pride struggled from the field to start the game as it shot just 1-11, yet trailed just 6-3. Antoine Hicks broke the Pride’s drought as he nailed a three from the top of the arc with just under 13 minutes left in the first half as the Pride tied the game at six-all. SC used an inside bucket from Cavalieri at the 11:47 mark to then gain its only lead of the first half at 8-6. The difference in the first half, however, proved to be the Lyons three-point attack as Wheaton connected on 4-of-8 from downtown in the first stanza. The Lyons were able to take control of the game as they used a pair of trifecta’s from Coppola to open up a five point lead, 19-14. Another triple from Brendan Deegan gave Wheaton its largest lead of the first half, 26-17, with 2:49 to play. The Pride was able to cut the lead to six (28-22) heading into the locker after Crean converted on a conventional three-point play with 12 ticks on the clock.

Besides Cavalieri’s 16-point, 9-rebound effort, Blackmon tallied 13 points for SC. Crean and John Strawson each added 11 points, while White tacked on eight points and three steals. SC shot 37.7% for the game, including a 48.5% shooting performance in the second half after going just 7-for-28 in the opening frame.

For Wheaton, Coppola finished with a game-high 19 points, including four three’s. Weeks finished with 14 points, while Stehle added 12 points and eight boards. Wheaton, which struggled from the free throw line in the first half (2-10), made up for it in the second stanza by going 10-for-12. The Lyons deep shooting was impressive as they went 11-for-20 from downtown, compared to the Pride’s 2-for-9 performance.

Springfield returns to action next Wednesday (Feb. 4) when it travels for a conference clash with MIT at 8 pm.