Springfield, Mass. – February 11, 2009 – The Springfield College men’s basketball team dropped a tight, 66-62, conference contest against WPI on Wednesday evening in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference play in Blake Arena. With the loss, the Pride drops to 10-12 overall, 2-7 in league action, while the Engineers improve to 17-4, 8-1.
Despite not connecting on a field goal for the final 8:55 of the game, Springfield battled with the top-ranked team in the conference and fifth-ranked team in New England down the stretch. A pair of free throws from Connor Flynn made it a 64-62 game in favor of the visitors with just 48 seconds remaining in the contest. After Matt Cavalieri blocked a Jerome Kirkland lay up attempt on the ensuing possession, the Pride had a chance to tie or take the lead with 20 seconds on the clock. However, Ryan Blackmon’s three-point attempt from the left side was too strong, and WPI made two-of-four foul shots in the final four seconds to claim the victory.
The game started at a break neck pace as both teams raced up and down the court. After WPI opened up a six-point lead after a Jeffrey Robinson lay up with 7:11 left in the opening stanza, Springfield rattled off a 9-1 run, capped off by a three-pointer from Pat Crean. The Engineers went into the locker room up two, 35-33, after Kirkland converted a conventional three-point play after a fast break lay in with five seconds left. Flynn was fouled as time expired and made one freebie with no time on the clock.
Just over two minutes into the second stanza, the home Pride regained a two-point lead, 39-37, after Danny White connected with Ryan Blackmon for a fast-break bucket. However, WPI stormed back to take the largest lead in the game for either team, a seven-point advantage, after another Robinson basket inside. Despite the field goal drought, Springfield held in the game as it went 19-for-23 from the free-throw line, including 16-for-18 in the second half. In the time period that the Pride went without a field goal, it connected on 11 of 12 free throws.
Cavalieri finished with team highs in both points and rebounds as he netted 14 points to go along with seven boards, three assists, and two blocks. White tallied 10 points, while Crean and John Strawson both added nine points. Springfield was haunted by turnovers, finishing with 20 for the game, including six in the final 4:16.
For WPI, Kirkland pumped in a game-high 21 points, as he went 10-for-11 from the free throw line. Robinson added 13 points, while Ben Etten chipped in with seven points and seven boards. The Engineers controlled the lane throughout the game as they owned a 36-16 advantage in points in the paint.
Springfield returns to action on Saturday afternoon when it travels to take on Wheaton at 1:00 pm.