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Men's Basketball Races Past Thomas, 74-53, Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic

Springfield, Mass. - December 30, 2017 - The Springfield College men's basketball team had four players score in double figures and raced past Thomas College, 74-53, in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic in Blake Arena on Saturday evening.

Now in its 31st year of existence, this year's Naismith Classic also features Fitchburg State and Wesleyan University.  Tonight's win snapped Springfield's five-game losing skid as the Pride evened its record to 5-5, while the setback dropped the Terriers to 5-4. Springfield will face the winner of the Fitchburg/Wesleyan contest for the championship, which will be played at 6:30 on Sunday. 

Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) led all scorers with 24 points to go along with six boards for the Pride, while both Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) and Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) netted 14 points apiece.  Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) chipped in 10 points, Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) pulled down a game-high 12 boards, and Deonte Sandifer (Pittsfield, Mass.) was credited with seven rebounds and five assists.  Springfield held a 43-34 edge on the glass, including a 17-6 advantage on the offensive boards, which resulted in 22 second-chance points.  

Thomas was paced by an 18-point, seven-rebound effort from Carlos Gonzalez, while five other players scored at least four points.  

Springfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead following jumpers from Eckles and McNulty in the opening two minutes of the game and an inside finish by Kevin Durkin (Worcester, Mass.) at the 13:02 mark gave the hosts a 14-8 cushion.  Thomas would battle back to within 17-16 thanks to a putback by Lovegeurson Fleurine with 9:57 on the clock, but the Pride responded with a 7-0 push, capped off by a Ross finish in transition to regain a 24-16 advantage as Thomas called for a timeout at the 7:39 mark. 

The Pride's would lead grow to 11 on a putback by Earle with 5:45 remaining and and the hosts would head into the break with a 35-27 cushion.  

Five-straight points by Ross in the opening three-plus minutes of the second half allowed Springfield to gain a 42-29 lead and the Terriers burned a timeout with 15:44 on the clock facing a 46-31 deficit after McNulty converted a fast-break bucket. Earle stroked a deep triple to make it a 53-31 contest at the 12:36 mark, only to have Thomas answer with 11-straight points to battle within 53-42 with 9:14 left. The Pride responded right back with an 8-2 run, using another trifecta from Ross to push the lead back to 17, 61-44, with 7:09 left.   The Terriers would get no closer than 13 and Springfield would lead by as many as 21 points twice down the stretch, with a bucket from Ben Diamond (New York, N.Y.) completing the game's scoring for the 74-53 final. 

Wesleyan 79, Fitchburg State 62

 The Wesleyan University men's basketball team shot nearly 50% from the floor and pulled away late from Fitchburg State for a 79-62 victory in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic on Saturday night in Springfield College's Blake Arena.

Wesleyan, which entered the game ranked 12th in the latest National Poll, remains unbeaten at 9-0, while Fitchburg State dropped to 3-7.

 The Cardinals received a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds from Nathan Krill (St. Helena, Calif.), while Austin Hutcherson (Freehold, N.J.) tallied 14 points and eight boards and Antone Walker (Philadelphia, Pa.) chipped in 13 points off the bench.  Wesleyan shot 23-for-47 (48.9%) and made the most of their free-throw attempts, connecting on 27-of-36 from the charity stripe, whil also holding a commanding 42-25 advantage on the glass.

For Fitchburg State, Joshua Bosworth (Springfield, Mass.) scored 14 points in his homecoming, while Nicholas Tracy (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 13 points, and Tyrell St. John (Stamford, Conn.) netted 11.  The Falcons shot just 35% from the field (20-for-57) and was outscored in the paint, 32-20, but were able to convert 18 Wesleyan turnovers into 20 points.

Wesleyan wasted no time grabbing control of the game, surging out to a 7-0 lead just over four minutes into the contest.  The Falcons responded with nine-straight points of their own, benefiting from a trio of triples, to earn a 9-7 cushion with 13:48 on the clock.  Fitchburg State continued to dictate the pace of play and had its lead balloon to 27-16 at the 7:41 mark when Brandon Harris (San Bernardino, Calif.) cashed in on a triple.  Over the next 4:29 of the game, Wesleyan poured on a 15-0 run to regain a 31-27 edge following a three-point play by Walker.  The Cardinals would head into the back with a 34-32 edge, thanks to 11 first-half points by Walker.

Wesleyan scored the first five points of the second half to gain a 39-32 edge following an inside bucket from JR Bascom (Edina, Minn.), but a spinning finish by Bosworth at the 14:15 mark allowed the Falcons to pull within 41-37. The Cardinals were able to push their lead to eight on a pair of occasions, including at 49-41 after Jordan James (Vienna, Va.) hammered home a dunk  with 11:36 on the clock, only to have a corner triple by St. John on the ensuing possession keep the Falcons within striking distance.  Out of a timeout, Wesleyan scored six-straight points to expand their lead to 55-44 with less than 10 minutes to play.  After the Cardinals used a pair of freebies from Sears to take a 12-point (66-54) point lead with 5:28 on the clock, the Falcons made one last push and scored seven-straight points, getting a three from the left wing by Tracy to draw within 66-61.  However, Wesleyan answered right back with a triple of their own from Jordan Bonner (Houston, Texas.), which kickstarted a 7-0 run over the next 1:22 to take control of the game for good, as the Cardinals pulled away with the 79-62 win.