Springfield, Mass. - January 8, 2013 - In a rematch of last season conference championship, the Springfield College men's basketball team clamped down on MIT to pick up a 56-53 win in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action in Blake Arena Tuesday night.
The Pride improved to 11-4, 2-0 in league play, while MIT, which was receiving votes in this week's d3hoops.com poll, drops to 10-3, 1-1. It marked Springfield's first win over MIT since Feb. 6, 2008, as the Engineers had won the previous 11 meetings.
Alex Berthiaume was terrific in the victory, pouring in a game-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go along with four assists and four rebounds. Robbie Burke added 11 points, and Jordan Rote posted 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Pat Rossi was especially effective on the blocks, totaling eight points and four blocks.
James Burke kept the Engineers in the game throughout, netting 18 points as he connected on 5-of-10 from downtown. Matt Redfield added nine points and 10 rebounds before fouling out, and Will Tashman registered nine rebounds and eight points. Mitchell Kates, who entered the game leading the conference in scoring, was blanketed all night by Sean Martin and limited to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Despite being undersized, the Pride held a 28-16 advantage on points in the paint and turned 17 MIT turnovers in 23 points. Springfield was able to get out in transition, holding a 14-2 edge in fast break points.
Seven of Springfield's first nine points came off MIT turnovers, as the Pride jumped out to a 9-2 lead 2:58 in the contest. MIT found its composure and responded with a 17-5 spurt to snag a 19-14 lead at the 9:42 mark. The Engineers buried four three-pointers in the run, including a pair from Burke from the left wing.
Springfield answered with a burst of its own, clamping down on defense to open up a 13-3 run of its own to regain a 27-22 lead with 4:01 on the clock. Berthiaume scored six of his 11 first-half points in the run, including a miraculous one-handed finish in transition on a great look from Rote.
Tashman closed out the first-half scoring with a put-back bucket as the teams headed into the locker room with the score 29-27 in favor of the hosts.
Springfield scored the first five points of the second half to open up an seven-point lead, 34-27, just 2:01 in. A Ryan Frankel trifecta cut Springfield's lead to three at 36-33 at the 14:39 mark, but the Pride scored the game's next six points, to earn its largest lead of the game, a 42-33 cushion, with 12:33 to play.
After Rossi made one of two from the line to make it a 47-39 contest, Burke put on an offensive show for MIT, pouring in nine-straight points in a 2:34 span to knot the game at 48 apiece. The senior guard hit a pair of huge threes in the run, and Kates would then hit free throw the next time down the court to give the Engineers its first lead since 6:19 mark of the first half.
The visitors lead grew to five on a fast-break bucket from Kates with just over three minutes to play before the Pride stormed back behind the play of Berthiaume. The senior guard knocked down a pair of free throws and then connected on a spinning floater along the baseline to get within one.
Burke hauled in a rebound on the ensuing possession and was fouled. After calmly sinking both freebies, Springfield forced MIT into a tough shot from deep, and corralled the loose ball up one. Out of a timeout, Berthiaume worked the clock down before finding a wide open Burke in the lane to put the hosts up three. With 31 seconds remaining, Springfield played tremendous defense, and a last-ditch three at the buzzer from Tashman fell short.
The Pride will suit up again on Thursday night when it travels to clash with Babson for a conference game set for 7:00 pm.