Springfield, Mass. -- November 15, 2009 -- Despite a career-best 21 points and 12 rebounds from Matt Cavalieri, the Springfield College men's basketball team lost to Rhode Island College, 62-59, this afternoon at Blake Arena in the season-opener for both squads.
The Anchormen of RIC have high hopes this season, hoping to make the NCAA post-season tournament once again. This afternoon, they were led by junior guard Antone Gray (Providence, R.I.) with 16 points, and by senior guard Jake Grimes (Providence, R.I.) with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Junior forward/center Darius Debnam (Dorchester, Mass.) followed with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
For Springfield, Cavalieri, a junior forward from West Warwick, R.I., scored a career-high and game-high 21 points, and added a game-high 12 rebounds. He was 10-of-17 from the field. Senior forward Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) followed with 19 points and 7 rebounds. He also had a game-high-tying 6 assists and 3 steals. Sophomore forward/center Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, R.I.) had 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The game was not decided until the final moments. Crean had made two free throws with 3:42 left, giving Springfield a 56-55 lead. But a three-pointer by Grimes with 2:50 left gave RIC the lead for good. Crean made a free throw with 1:54 to go, cutting RIC's lead to 58-57.
Crean missed a three-point attempt with 1:26 left that could have given SC the lead.
Gray then hit a long two-pointer with 52 seconds left that proved to be the shot of the game. That put the Anchormen up by three points again, 60-57. SC then had two more three-point attempts, by senior guard Ryan Blackmon (Stamford, Conn.) with 30 seconds left, and by sophomore guard Conner Flynn (Marlborough, Mass.) with 26 seconds left, missing both. RIC's Debnam was fouled and made both free throws with 20 seconds left, and RIC looked free and clear up by five, 62-57.
But Cavalieri made a tough rebound-lay-up with nine seconds left, and it was still a ballgame, especially when Debnam missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with eight seconds left. Crean then attempted a good-look three-pointer with two seconds left from the right-hand side that could have tied it. But it hit the rim and fell away, ending the game.
Springfield was the team in control in the first half, leading 33-27 at the intermission. SC's largest lead was at 23-13 when Crean made two free throws with 7:19 left in the half. But when Debnam made a three-pointer with 4:01 left, RIC took a 27-25 lead. SC, however, scored the last eight points of the half.
In the second half, when Cavalieri made a lay-up with 18:54 left, SC led by eight, 37-29. But RIC then outscored the Pride, 20-5, over the next nine minutes, and the Anchormen took a 49-42 lead, their largest of the game, following a lay-up by junior forward Carl Lee (West Warwick, R.I.).
That set up the exciting finish.
Crean, a First Team All-NEWMAC selection as a junior last season, now needs just four points to reach the coveted 1,000 figure for his career.
Springfield continues its early-season tough schedule when it next plays Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Salem State at 7 pm.