Worcester, Mass. - January 19, 2013 - Robbie Burke's three-point play with 5.9 seconds remaining propelled the Springfield College men's basketball team to a 66-65 win at Clark University on Saturday afternoon in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) meeting.
The win for Springfield extends their winning streak to a season-best five straight, while improving their overall record to 14-4. More importantly, they keep pace with WPI as both teams sit at 5-0 in the league standings heading into their matchup in Worcester on Wednesday.
Clark, meanwhile, has dropped back-to-back heartbreaking contests to the league's top teams. They were tied with WPI on Wednesday with less than six minutes to play and had the lead in the final seconds before seeing it slip away against the Pride.
The Cougars trailed by as many as 12 midway through the second half as Springfield's guard tandem of Jordan Rote and Alex Berthiaume were able to get into the paint for layups and short jumpers. Matt Pascuzzo's steal and finish on the break followed by the subsequent free throw gave the Pride a 52-40 edge with less than 13 minutes remaining in the contest.
Over the next ten minutes, however, Clark was able to claw its way back into the contest courtesy of their two-headed interior monster of D.J. Bailey and Brian Vayda. That duo scored 19 points during the Cougars' 22-7 run that turned their 12 point deficit into a 62-59 lead with 2:39 remaining.
After Vayda's inside hoop gave Clark a three-point lead, Burke answered back when Berthiaume found Burke for an interior basket, clipping the lead to 62-61. Vayda corralled an offensive board at the other end and finished inside again, giving Clark a 64-61 edge with 1:56 left to play.
Nobody scored for the next minute and a half until Burke was able to force the fifth foul on Bailey and made both freebies, making the score 64-63 with 21 seconds to play.
After Vayda was fouled and split a pair from the charity stripe, Berthiaume drove the length of the court and fired up an off balance layup that clanged off the backboard and rim. Burke was able to haul in the carom and emerge from the scrum and finish while getting fouled. His free throw a moment later was all net, giving the Pride a 66-65 lead.
Clark had one final attempt, but John Karas saw his three-pointer from the right wing come up short as time expired.
The contest saw nine lead changes and ten ties and each team had a hot shooting half. Springfield's came in the game's first 20 minutes when Rote scored 17 points and they built a 37-30 halftime edge.
The Cougars' were sizzling in the second half when Bailey and Vayda combined to score 29 of the team's 35 points on 52 percent shooting.
Despite the interior presence of Bailey and Vayda, the Pride held a 40-28 edge on points in the paint. Clark, meanwhile, had a 40-34 edge – including 23 on the offensive end, helping them to 23-21 advantage in second chance points.
Rote ended with 20 points (7-for-11), while Berthiaume added 16 points. Burke, who truly came through in the clutch today, totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Bailey led all scorers with 22 points and seven boards, while Vayda had an excellent all-round game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Springfield will next prep for a clash at rival WPI on Wednesday. Game time is set for 5:30 pm.