Babson Park, Mass. - January 6, 2010 - Pat Crean tallied a game-high 20 points and Matt Cavalieri added 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Springfield College men's basketball team rallied in the final minutes for a 72-70 victory at Babson in both squads New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener.
Springfield, which led for the majority of the game, has now won three straight games and improves to 5-8 on the season, including 1-0 in conference play. Babson now stands at 5-6, 0-1 in league action.
In a game where the Pride had its best shooting night of the season, connecting on 53.2% of its shots (25-47), Springfield had three players notch double digits in the scoring column. Crean did most of his damage from the free-throw line as he was a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe en route to his fourth 20-plus point game this season. Cavalieri was nearly perfect from the floor as he connected on 8-of-9 shots for his second-straight double double for the Pride. In his first collegiate start, Darvis Rankins added 11 points and five boards for Springfield. On the defensive end, Ryan Coburn was tremendous as he totaled eight blocks, the fourth time this season that he swatted at least five shots, and Billy Harkins led all players with six assists.
In the process, Crean became just the 20th player in the storied Springfield College list of all-time leading scorers to reach the 1,200-point plateau. Crean has now scored 1,205 career points. Immediately ahead of Crean is Earl Elliotte '93, who has scored 1,280 career points.
After being held to just two points and one rebound in the first half, Babson sophomore Kris Noonan turned in a huge second stanza to finish with 18 points, eight boards, and two blocks. First-year Marcus McDermott added 16 points and four assists for the Beavers, while junior captain Matt Zoia contributed eight points in defeat. Babson turned the ball over just 11 times in the contest, but shot just 32.3 percent from the field in the second half.
Springfield controlled the game early on, as the visitors dominated the paint behind five early blocks from Coburn to build a 29-19 advantage in the first 12 and a half minutes. However, Babson battled back to tie the game with a 14-4 run over the next 4:30, fueled by two lay-ups apiece from McDermott and junior Dana Mauro as well as three-pointers by first-year Alex Rudolph and junior Shelton Ladson. Springfield then moved back in front with four straight points and eventually entered the break with a 37-35 lead.
Although the Beavers would tie the contest again at 41-41 three minutes into the second half, Springfield refused to relinquish the lead for the first 12 minutes of the period. The Pride led by as many as eight on four occasions during that span, including a 57-49 margin following a lay-up by sophomore Evan Christner with 9:54 on the clock.
Babson finally moved ahead with an 11-0 run that was sparked by a Zoia trifecta that made it 57-52 with 9:40 left. Noonan followed with a big three-point play off an offensive rebound at 9:09, and after drawing a foul on his teammate’s free throw, first-year Russell Braithwaite sank a pair of his own to tie the contest at 57-57. The Beavers then took their first lead since the opening four minutes when McDermott stepped back for a three-pointer to make it 60-57 with eight minutes remaining.
Babson extended its lead to as many as five after a pair of Noonan free throws with 7:13 to go, but Springfield netted four straight to get within one and neither team led by more than three the rest of the way. With the hosts holding a 68-65 advantage, Cavalieri drained a jumper and Crean sank two freebies to move the Pride back in front 69-68, but Noonan came right back with a jumper from the right baseline to give Babson a 70-69 edge.
Crean put Springfield in front for good when he sank a driving lay-up from the right block with 1:13 left, giving his team a 71-70 lead. The Beavers then came up empty on their next possession after another big Cobun block, and a Cavalieri offensive rebound at the other end helped the Pride run more than 40 seconds off the clock. Babson finally got the ball back with 19 seconds remaining, but Noonan’s long jumper from the right elbow missed and Rankins came up with the rebound in traffic. After getting fouled, the junior guard hit one of two from the line with 1.5 seconds left, and McDermott’s desperation three from beyond half court hit the top of the backboard as Springfield escaped with the 72-70 win.
Springfield will continue league action on Saturday afternoon when it travels south to take on Coast Guard for a 1:00 pm contest.