The Pride, which enters the tournament with a 20-7 overall record, earned an at-large bid into the tournament after losing to MIT, 67-56 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship game.
In the semifinal matchup against Babson, Springfield received some late game heroics from juniors Nick Sienkiewicz and Sean Martin to defeat the second-ranked Babson Beavers 85-77 in overtime to advanced to play MIT in the NEWMAC Championship.
Despite a stellar performance from senior Robbie Burke, in which he scored a career-high 24 points and posted four rebounds, the Pride fell short against the Engineers, losing 67-56.
Finishing the season with a 20-7 overall record, the Pride has been a team that has seen success for most of the season. Being the third time under direction of head coach Charlie Brock that a Springfield College team has posted 20 or more wins, the Pride will be making a return trip to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
The Pride stared off the 2013-2014 campaign with a 9-2 record, including a first-place finish at the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic after defeating Lyndon State and Bridgewater State to take home the title.
The biggest wins of the season for the Pride were on Jan. 11 when Springfield traveled to Babson College, who at the time was ranked No. 25, and defeated the Beavers, 89-81 in overtime. The Pride also picked up a crucial 59-51 victory over MIT at home on Feb. 6, as sophomore guard Alex Garstka led the team with 17 points off the bench.
After falling to Babson at home, 67-61, on Feb. 12, the Pride rallied off three straight wins prior to reaching the NEWMAC tournament. Ranked as the No. 3 seed heading into the tournament, the Pride had a bye through the first round, but were to play Babson for the third time over the course of the season.
Springfield came back to defeat the Beavers in overtime, 85-77, advancing into the NEWMAC championship game to face MIT. In the championship game, the Pride fell to the Engineers 67-56.
NCAA Championship Tournament History
Last season, after claiming an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament despite losing an overtime battle with WPI in the NEWMAC Championship, senior guard Alex Berthiaume netted a career-best 35 points, including his 1000th of his career, however the Ithaca College men’s basketball team defeated Springfield College, 89-77, in a NCAA Division III Championship First Round contest.
Returning to the NCAA Championship Tournament back-to-back times for the third time in the program’s Division III history, the Pride will be traveling to Ashland, Va. to take on Mary Washington in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Championship.
Prior to the 2012-2013 season, the Pride visited the NCAA Tournament in 2005, when they defeated Norwich University, 71-56, in the first round, advancing to take on Amherst College, where the Pride fell to the Lord Jeffs, 81-68.
Against The Field
The Pride will be traveling to Ashland, Va. to take on the No. 17 Mary Washington Eagles in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles posted a 22-5 overall record in the 2013-2014 season including taking the Capital Athletic Conference with a 65-48 victory over Christopher Newport.
Of the 62 teams in the Division III field, Springfield has faced 18 of them throughout the history of the program, and this season, Springfield has the following records against teams in the field:
Jan. 11 - W, 89-81 (OT)
Feb. 12 - L, 61-67
Mar. 1 - W, 85-77 (OT)
Dec. 7 - L, 75-80
Bridgewater State: 1-0
Jan. 4 - W, 80-66
Jan. 18 - L, 51-55
Feb. 6 - W, 59-51
Mar. 2 - L, 56-67
Jan. 8 - L, 61-81
Feb. 1 - L, 70-71
Friday’s showdown with Mary Washington will be the first time in program history that these two teams have met. If Springfield is able to advance to Saturday, it will be against another rare opponent. Springfield has never played against Randolph Macon or DeSales.
On the Road
Friday’s game will come after quite a bus ride as Springfield, Massachusetts and Ashland, Virginia are over 450 miles apart. The team, which departed campus at 7:00 am on Thursday morning, will travel nearly eight hours south to compete in the national tournament.
20 Win Mark
This season’s 20-7 overall record marks the the third 20-win season under direction of head coach Charlie Brock. Brock previously reached the mark when the 2004-2005 squad went 22-7 and the 1999-2000 team finished with a 21-9 mark.
Making the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time in program history, this season’s trip will mark the third time in the program’s Division III history that the Pride will be going to the national tournament in back-to-back seasons. The team made the NCAA Tournament after impressive 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 seasons as well as 1996-1997 and 1997-98 seasons.
Out of the 64 institutions that have made the 2014 NCAA Tournament, 20 of them have representatives from both the men’s and women’s programs at their respective schools. Of the 20 teams that have representatives from both programs, six of these schools are from New England, including: Bridgewater State, Springfield, Amherst, Williams, Bowdoin and Rhode Island College.
City of Firsts
Known worldwide as The Birthplace of Basketball ®, the game of basketball was invented at Springfield College by Professor James Naismith.
Senior forward Robbie Burke was selected to the NEWMAC All-Conference first team, while junior guard Sean Martin was selected to the second team.
Burke is the Pride's leading scorer this season, averaging 14.2 points per game. He's second on the team in rebounds, averaging 7.3 per game and has posted seven double-doubles this year. He is a monster on the defensive glass, pulling down 142 defensive rebounds. The senior has scored 16 or more points, 11 times this season and has scored 20 or more three times. His season high thus far was 24 points in the NEWMAC Championship game, which was also his career-high. Burke has shot 44.6% (148-332) from the floor this season.
Martin is Springfield's all-around guy this year. The senior is averaging 31.1 minutes per game this season and is leading the team in several categories. He's dished out a team-best 128 assists and tallied 65 steals. Martin is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.7 points per game. He's gotten to the foul line 135 times this season, shooting 76.3% from the charity stripe. Martin has shot 50% (101-202) from the floor and has started all 27 games for the Pride.
To date, Springfield currently has five different players averaging in double figures in the scoring column as part of a balanced offensive attack.
Robbie Burke - 14.2 ppg
Sean Martin - 11.7 ppg
Alex Garstka - 10.9 ppg
Tim Swenson - 10.4 ppg
Nick Sienkiewicz - 10.3 ppg
The Pride had a different leading scorer in each of their first seven games, and Burke has led the team in scoring in 11 of their 27 games.