Springfield, Mass. - February 10, 2013 - The Springfield College men's basketball team knocked off WPI, the nation's second-ranked team, 66-60, on Sunday afternoon in Blake Arena in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash.
Springfield has now beaten three teams this year who at one point were ranked in the top five in the D3hoops.com national poll, with earlier victories over MIT and Amherst. The Pride improved to 16-7, 7-3 in league play, while WPI, which entered the game as the lone remaining undefeated team in Division III, drops to 22-1, 9-1.
Alex Berthiaume paced Springfield with 20 points, while Nick Sienkiewicz poured in a season-best 19 points. Robbie Burke hauled in a game-high 11 boards, and Matt Pascuzzo was tremendous off the bench, tallying nine points and three assists. Tim Swenson was also solid off the bench, giving the Pride six points and seven boards.
Marco Coppola registered a game-high 24 points for WPI, and Domenick Mastascusa recorded 15 points in just 17 minutes of action. Ryan Kolb added nine points, six boards, and five steals for the Engineers, who scored 23 points off 24 Springfield miscues.
For the game, Springfield shot 44.2% (19-for-43), and held a 39-30 edge on the glass. WPI finished the game shooting 35% (21-for-60), including a 6-for-20 performance from beyond the arc.
The difference in the contest proved to be Springfield's ability to get to the free throw line. The Pride connected on 24-of-30 from the charity stripe, including 17-for-21 in the second half. The Engineers finished the contest going 12-of-16 on their free throws.
A deep two from Zach Karalis cut Springfield's early lead to 13-10 with 11:51 on the clock, only to have Berthiaume answer with four straight points, including an acrobatic scooping layup, as the Pride extended its lead to seven just under a minute later. The Engineers responded with a 6-0 push, capped off by a corner three from Coppola to make it a one-point contest. Over the next 3:07, Springfield poured on a 11-3 burst, with Sienkiewicz canning a three from the left corner to force WPI in a timeout, trailing 28-19 with 4:12 to go.
The Pride led by nine on two other occasions, the last coming on another Sinkiewicz three at the 2:15 mark, but WPI closed out the half on a 7-0 spurt to head into the half down just two.
The hosts shot 48% from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play, but were troubled by 12 turnovers. WPI, while shooting just 34.% from the floor, went 5-for-11 from downtown to stay within striking distance.
Aaron Davis scored the first points of the second half to even the game, only to have the Pride answer with the game's next seven points to take a 40-33 lead following a step-back jumper from Pascuzzo in transition. Sienkiewicz added his third three pointer of the game the next trip down the floor, giving Springfield its largest lead of the game, 43-33, with 15:20 to go.
Over the next 6:44, WPI erupted on a 15-4 run, capped off by a Mastascusa fast-break dunk, as the visitors snagged their first lead since 15:45 mark of the opening half.
The Engineers lead would grow to as many as four, with a foul line jumper from Kolb with 3:29 remaining making the score 55-51. However, two free throws from Berthiaume and tip-in by Burke even things just 54 seconds later.
Coppola hit just one of two from the line the next time down the floor for WPI's final lead of the game, as Springfield came up clutch from the charity stripe down the stretch. The Pride knocked down 11-of-14 in the final 2:02, none bigger than Sean Martin's two freebies with seven seconds left after consecutive layups from Coppola cut the lead to two.
Springfield will play its final home regular season game next Wednesday when it hosts Clark at 5:30 pm.