Springfield, Mass. -- January 5, 2011 -- Billy Harkins scored a career-high 17 points, including his team's last eight points in overtime, to lead his Springfield College men's basketball team to a 64-59 victory over Babson College in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference contest tonight at SC's Blake Arena.
With the win, Springfield is now 8-5 overall, 1-0 NEWMAC. Babson falls to 5-7, 0-1 in league play.
Ryan Coburn, a junior center from West Warwick, R.I., led the Pride with a game-high 19 points. He also had a game-high nine rebounds. Coburn was followed by Harkins, a senior guard from Bellmore, N.Y., with 17 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Also scoring in double figures for the Pride was senior forward Matt Cavalieri (West Warwick, R.I.) with 15 points.
For the Beavers, four players scored in double figures. They included sophomore forward Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, N.Y.) with 15 points, sophomore guard Alex Rudolph (Bal Harbor, Fla.) with 14, junior guard Matt Florio (Skillman, N.J.) with 12, and senior guard Matt Zoia (Nashua, N.H.) with 10. Braithwaite led his squad with six rebounds.
It was a game in which every possession was hard-fought. Springfield's largest lead was its five-point margin which it enjoyed at game's end. Babson's largest lead was eight points (33-25) with 18:58 remaining in regulation.
With 6:15 left, Babson junior forward Kris Noonan (Boothbay Harbor, Me.) made a lay-up, putting the Beavers up by four, 49-45. With 3:11 left, Braithwaite scored on a rebound lay-up, giving Babson a short-lived three-point lead, 52-49. But Braithwaite was called for a technical foul on the play. Harkins made both free throws, cutting the advantage to one, and Springfield retained possession of the ball. With exactly two minutes left, Coburn made a lay-up, which put SC into the lead for the first time since the nine-minute mark.
Rudolph made a tough baseline jumper to put Babson back up by one, 54-53 with 1:26 left. Coburn then made the second of two free throws with 1:07 left, and that's how regulation-time ended, 54-all. A 3-point attempt for Springfield was off the mark at the buzzer.
Two free throws by Braithwaite gave Babson an immediate two-point edge, 56-54, with 4:32 left in the overtime. But a Coburn jumper tied it at 56-all. Noonan made one of two free throws with 3:49 left, giving Babson its last lead, 57-56. Harkins scored two free throws with 2:41 left, and that gave SC the lead for good.
Harkins then made a twisting lay-up with 42 seconds left to give SC a 60-57 edge. But Braithwaite scored a lay-up with 18 seconds left to cut the margin back to one, 60-59. Then it became a free-throw shooting contest, with Harkins scoring two from the charity stripe with 11 seconds left, and two more with three seconds left to clinch it.
Both teams shot the ball well in the first half, with Babson going 12-for-27 (.444) and the Pride netting 11 of its 21 attempts (.524). Despite its hot shooting, Springfield turned the ball over 12 times in the opening 20 minutes of play, leading to 15 points for the Beavers.
The visitors connected on six of their first seven shots as they jumped out to a quick 15-8 lead after a layup by Zoia with 14:02 on the clock. However, Springfield used an 11-2 run, capped off by a Cavalieri fast-break bucket, over the next 3:04 to snag a 19-17 advantage. The Pride held a two-point cushion at 23-21 after a Harkins' free throw at the 4:36 mark, only to have the Beavers rattle off a 10-2 run to close out the half. Braithwaite came alive in the final three minutes as he scored all of his six first-half points, two coming off a fast-break dunk which gave the Beavers the lead back.
Springfield outrebounded Babson, 30-28. SC shot .480 overall (24-of-50), while Babson finished at .407 (22-of-54). SC turned it over 17 times, but only five times in the second half and the overtime session. The game was tied eight times, and the lead changed hands nine times.
The Pride will continue league play on Saturday afternoon when it takes on Coast Guard at home at 1:00 pm.
(Photo by Cindi Williamson of Fat Dog Fotos)