NORTON, Mass. - January 30, 2008 - Junior John Strawson (Torrington, Conn.) netted a team-best 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Wheaton College Lyons rallied past the Springfield College men's basketball team, 77-72, in overtime on Wednesday evening.
With the loss, the Pride drops to 7-11, 2-4 in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference play.
Leading by one with the clock winding down in regulation, the Pride was called for a foul on the defensive end with just six seconds left. Wheaton's Nick Michel hit the back end of a pair of free throws to knot the contest at 62. Senior Jamaal Gibbs's (Norwalk, Conn.) jumper missfired with two seconds left as Springfield headed to overtime for the first time this season.
The Lyons scored 11 of the extra session's first 12 points, leading 73-63 with 2:25 remaining. Freshman Anthony Coppola, who finished with a game-best 31 points, had five points during that time, as the Lyons hit their first three field goal attempts. Three players scored during an ensuing 6-0 Springfield run that took only 57 seconds, but Wheaton junior Nick Michel grabbed a critical offensive rebound late in the shot clock with 34 seconds remaining, and senior Brent DiGiovanna hit all four of his free throw tries during the last 28.3 seconds.
Wheaton forced the extra period by turning a 51-40 deficit with 12:40 remaining in regulation into a 56-53 lead at 6:23, as Coppola hit two three-pointers during the run before sophomore Jaxon Leo scored the final five points. Springfield countered with a 7-0 run, and the visitors still led by four before Michel sank two free throws at 1:41. Freshman Ryan Sasso hit a free throw with 51.8 ticks remaining, and Michel snagged a missed Pride three-pointer before making the tying freebie with 6.5 seconds left.
To begin the game, Wheaton ran out to an 11-0 lead after 2:52, as Coppola scored the first nine points and hit all four of his field goal attempts. The visitors quickly regrouped, shooting 11-of-15 while embarking on a 27-8 run that occurred over a 10:14 span. Six Pride players scored in that time, with senior Gregg Daly (Farmington, Conn.) and sophomore Ryan Blackmon (Stamford, Conn.) tallying seven points apiece.
After Leo's bucket at 17:08, Wheaton was held to just one field goal before senior Jake Otto scored with 7:37 to go in the half. In between, the Lyons shot 1-of-13 while hitting four free throw attempts. Wheaton trailed by a 33-26 count 3:13 before halftime, but Coppola canned a three, Leo hit two free throws, and another pair of freebies from Coppola knotted the contest at 33 at 1:52. However, Daly's lay-up with 1:35 left gave Springfield a 35-33 edge heading into the locker room.
By halftime, Coppola had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a 3-of-3 showing from beyond the arc. For the game, Coppola notched his third 30-point contest of the season, shooting 11-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-8 on three-point tries. Michel tallied 10 points after halftime while finishing with 12 overall and nabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. Michel shot 6-of-7 on free throws, while Leo hit all seven tries from the charity stripe and tallied 15 points. Wheaton, which went 8-of-8 on overtime free throw attempts, finished 25-of-28 for the game.
Strawson tallied a double-double for Springfield with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Daly had 17 points. Blackmon added 11 points and six boards, while Gibbs had 11 points, four assists and three steals. Sophomore Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) tallied nine points, and was credited with six assists and four steals. The Pride shot 4-of-14 in overtime.
The Pride has a week off until it looks to get back on the winning track at Blake Arena next Wednesday when it plays host to MIT. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm.