Springfield, Mass. -- January 29, 2011 -- Matt Cavalieri poured in a season-high-tying 28 points, including the 1,000th of his career, to lead the Springfield College men's basketball team to a convincing 86-71 win over rival Wheaton College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday evening at SC's Blake Arena. The Pride now has won two straight.
The win boosts the Pride's record to 11-8 overall, 4-3 in league play. Springfield has moved into a tie for second place in the league standings. Wheaton drops to 7-12 overall, 2-5 in the conference.
In tonight's game, Springfield's coaching staff, including head coach Charlie Brock, all wore sneakers to signify their taking part in the Coaches versus Cancer initiative, which is being conducted throughout the nation this entire weekend.
With his 1,000 points, Cavalieri becomes the 27th player in program history to reach that career milestone. The senior forward achieved the milestone at the 4:48 mark of the first half when he connected on an 18-foot jumper from the left wing with two men in his face. The last player to hit 1,000 points was Pat Crean, who did it against Salem State on November 17, 2009.
Cavalieri now has 1,013 points for his career. Up next in the SC list of 1000-point scorers is John Gleason '02 with 1,059. Cavalieri went 11-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. He also had four rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.
Also playing well for the Pride tonight was Jordan Rote with a season-high 16 points, and Pat Rossi with a season-high-tying 12 points. Ryan Coburn added nine points and a game-high eight rebounds. Rote's previous season high had been eight points. All told, Springfield's bench scored 42 points.
Wheaton was led by four double-figure scorers, including Anthony Coppola and Brian Grossman with 17 points apiece. Brian Johnson added 11 points, and Scott Faucher 10.
Cavalieri was on the offensive from the get-go as he netted Springfield's first 10 points before a Rossi lay up gave Springfield a 12-5 cushion at the 14:08 mark. However, as it did the entire first half, Wheaton used the three ball to keep itself in the contest. A deep three by Grossman at the 8:15 mark cut Springfield's lead to three at 21-18. But Springfield's offense was clicking on all cylinders as it began a 17-4 run over the next 5:15 to take a commanding 38-22 lead. A three by Rote with 39 ticks left gave the hosts a 45-31 advantage heading into the locker room.
In the first half alone, Springfield shot 56.7% (17-30), but Wheaton was able to off-set Springfield's strong half with a 7-13 performance of their own from downtown. Cavalieri netted 19 points in the opening 20 minutes, while Grossman connected on all four of his trifectas to lead the Lyons with 14 points.
The SC lead grew to 20 in the first 6:10 of the second half -- at 58-38 on a Rossi lay-up. With 6:13 left in the game, SC's lead grew to 30 at 76-46 on two free throws by Evan Christner. Wheaton tried to make a game of it, cutting the margin to as little as 12 at 81-69 with 1:11 left on a Faucher lay-up. But a 3-pointer by Justin Best, and a lay-up by Michael Adams with 27 seconds left gave SC a 17-point lead once again.
Springfield outrebounded the Lyons, 40-30. Wheaton had 18 turnovers to the Pride's 14. SC finished with 19 assists in 31 baskets, led by a season-high nine assists by Billy Harkins In fact, Harkins has had a total of 17 assists and just two turnovers in his last two games.
The Pride will now embark on a three-game road swing which begins on Wednesday at Coast Guard. Tip off is scheduled for 5:30 pm.