Westfield, Mass. -- December 1, 2012 -- Led by Alex Berthiaume's 20 points, the Springfield College men's basketball team took a 19-point second half lead and then held on to upset Amherst College, the nation's #6-ranked team, 70-64 in the Pioneer Valley Classic tonight at Westfield State. With the win, Springfield ups its record to 5-1.
Amherst suffers its first loss and is now 5-1. It was also only the second loss for Amherst in 24 Pioneer Valley Classic games and marks the first time that Springfield bested the Lord Jeffs since 1981.
Berthiaume, a senior guard from Springfield, Mass., scored a team-high 20 points, including two free throws with four seconds remaining, to clinch the victory for the Pride. He also was credited with nine rebounds and three steals.
Also scoring in double figures for SC were senior forward Pat Rossi (Rock Tavern, N.Y.) with 14 points, and sophomore guard Josh Altman (Rockport, Mass.) with 12. Junior forward Robbie Burke (Cheshire, Mass.) chipped in with nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Springfield won this game with its defensive play, holding the Lord Jeffs to a .350 shooting percentage. SC also outrebounded Amherst, 46-37, grabbing 14 offensive boards. SC also produced 19 turnovers, while committing only 14 of its own.
After a back-and-forth first half, SC grabbed a 33-28 lead at the intermission. SC was down by as many as two points on four different occasions in that stanza.
In the second half, the Pride never trailed, exploding in the first five-and-a-half minutes by outscoring Amherst, 20-6, to take a 53-34 lead. When Rossi made a free throw with 14:27 remaining, SC led by 19 points.
But led by David Kaleema (game-high 22 points), Aaron Toomey (14 points), and Willy Workman (12 points), Amherst would cut the margin to five (59-54) in the next seven minutes to make it a game once again.
Amherst would close the gap to just three points (67-64) with 1:20 remaining on two free throws by Peter Kaasila.
Neither team scored again until junior Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) tallied a free throw with 17 seconds left, making it a two-score contest. Berthiaume then iced it with his free throws with just four seconds left.
Springfield's next two games will also come against New England Small College Athletic Conference teams, both at home. SC will host Trinity on Thursday (Dec. 6) (its home opener), at 7 pm, then Williams on Saturday (Dec. 8) at 1 pm.