Amherst, Mass. -- December 3, 2010 -- Matt Cavalieri scored a game-high 23 points, and three others scored in double figures, to lead the Springfield College men's basketball team to a dominant 82-67 victory tonight over Elms College at LeFrak Gymnasium in a first round game of the Pioneer Valley Classic.
With the win, SC evens its record at 3-3 with its third victory in a row, while Elms falls to 3-1.
In the first game of the night, host Amherst College, ranked 23rd nationally, pummeled Westfield State University, 110-57.
Cavalieri, a senior forward and co-captain from West Warwick, R.I., was an important factor in the early stages of the SC-Elms game. He scored nine of SC's first 12 points. By the half, he had a team-high 15 points. He finished with team-highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. He also had two assists, one block, and one steal, and was 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
But Cavalieri was not the only reason why Springfield played very well this evening. Just about everyone who played significant minutes contributed to this win. Three others scored in double figures. They included senior guard Darvis Rankins (Boston, Mass.) with 13 points, junior center Evan Christner (Voorheesville, N.Y.) with 12 points, all in the second half, and senior point-guard Billy Harkins (Bellmore, N.Y.) with 11 points.
Harkins played a solid floor game, adding six assists and four steals, shooting 3-for-4 from the floor, and 5-of-8 from the free throw line. Despite the fact that he was constantly pressured by the Elms defenders, he consistently kept his poise.
But there were more contributors for the Pride. Junior forward Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, R.I.) had nine points and four rebounds for SC, despite playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble. Coburn eventually fouled out with 1:27 remaining.
Sophomore forward Trevor DiMicco (Coventry, R.I.) also played well early, and finished with seven points, four rebounds, four assists, one block, and one steal. Sophomore guard Matt Pascuzzo (Wallingford, Conn.) also had some pressure-packed moments in the first half especially when he scored four of his five points. Pascuzzo played 13 minutes. And freshman forward Ben Fox (Cape Elizabeth, Me.) came through with two points and six rebounds in 12 solid minutes.
The game went back-and-forth to a degree in the early going. Elms led by four twice, 6-2 and 14-10. Each time, however, Cavalieri did not allow it to be stretched out any further. But it was Pascuzzo's lay-up with 10:21 left in the first half which put SC into the lead for good at 18-17. From down 14-10, SC put on a 15-3 surge, giving the Pride a 25-17 lead with 7:10 left in the half. Pascuzzo's bucket was the start of an 8-0 run. That was followed by a DiMicco lay-up, a Cavalieri 16-footer, and a 3-pointer by Rankins.
A Rankins 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left in the half gave SC its largest lead to that point, 43-26. By the intermission, Cavalieri had produced 15 points, Harkins 9, and Coburn 7.
Despite being up by 17, the lead never felt totally secure through much of the second half. But the Pride found a new hero in that stanza when Christner came off the bench. Christner scored all 12 of his points in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting before he fouled out with 29.6 seconds left.
Elms continued to make it interesting, cutting the margin to 45-32 with 18:10 left, then much later to 69-57 with 5:21 left. But a Rankins lay-up on a beautiful feed from Harkins gave SC a 78-59 lead with 1:55 remaining, eventually allowing Head Coach Charlie Brock to clear his bench.
For Elms, senior guard Daniel Gonzalez (East Windsor, Conn.) led with 15 points. He also had five rebounds. Senior forward Juan Alverio (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) had 14 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Sophomore guard Brittain Purcelle (Tarrytown, N.Y.) finished with 10 points.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Springfield will play Westfield State at 1 pm, while Amherst will take on Elms at 3 pm, again at Amherst as the Pioneer Valley Classic continues.