Willimantic, Conn. - November 22, 2008 - Junior Pat Crean netted a game-high and career-high 24 points, including 14 straight at one point in the second half for the Pride, as the Springfield College men's basketball team rallied to win the Eastern Connecticut Invitational by virtue of a 75-71 win over ECSU on Saturday afternoon.
Springfield now stands at 4-1 on the season. The last time the Pride opened up the year with a 4-1 record was in the 2004-2005 season when it started off the year with a 9-1 record. The squad eventually advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
After trailing 40-33 at the end of the first half, Crean put the Pride on his back to start the second stanza. Down by eight with 17:07 to go in the game, Crean went on to score 10 unanswered points as Springfield regained a 50-48 lead.
The game would be a back-and-forth affair as it was tied eight times in the second half. A Ryan Blackmon lay-up with 3:44 left put the Pride up for good as Springfield was able to ice the game down the stretch with some solid free-throw shooting. Danny White, Anthony Epps, and Blackmon combined to go 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 2:11 to give Springfield the win.
Crean finished with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two steals as he was named the Invitational's Most Valuable Player. Epps tallied 16 points,and was credited with four rebounds and two assists as he was chosen to the All-Tournament Team after having a breakout weekend for head coach Charlie Brock. The other member of the SC squad named to the All-Tournament team was White. The senior point guard continued to produce all over the court as he notched six points, six assists, and four steals in the win. Blackmon also added 14 points in the victory.
In the second half alone, the Pride shot a blistering 62.5% and finished the game shooting just over 49% from the floor. SC also went 17-for-21 from the charity stripe on the day.
For Eastern, Jamie Kohn led three players in double figures as he scored a team-best 22 points. Broderick Sawyer added 16, while Edwin Ortiz pumped in 14 in the loss. The Warriors owned a 41-28 advantage on the glass, including a 19-10 lead on the offensive boards.
The Pride will next play on Friday when it participates in the Pioneer Valley Classic hosted by Westfield State College. Springfield will square off against Amherst, currently ranked 15th in the country, on Friday evening at 6:00 pm.