SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – December 14, 2007 – Pat Crean scored two clutch free throws with 13 seconds left to break a tie and propel Springfield College to a 79-77 victory over #25-ranked Rhode Island College tonight at Springfield College’s James Naismith Court at Blake Arena.
With the win, Springfield raised its record to 3-5. RIC fell to 8-2. Earlier this season, in the championship game of the Wesleyan Invitational, the Anchormen of RIC had beaten the Pride, 71-62.
The score was tied at 77-all following three free throws by RIC junior guard Tirrell Hill (Bronx, N.Y.) with 31 seconds remaining. He had been fouled on a 3-point attempt. After that, Springfield called a time-out with 13.1 seconds left. As SC was trying to throw the ball inbounds, Crean was held by Hill, who fouled out on the play. Crean then calmly sank both ends of the 1-and-1 to give the Pride a 2-point lead.
On the ensuing play, RIC junior guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, R.I.) drove the lane with about five seconds left. Stewart fed the ball to freshman guard Antone Gray (Providence, R.I.), whose lay-up attempt was blocked by SC junior center John Strawson (Torrington, Conn.). The ball went out of bounds with 1.1 seconds left. Both teams called a time-out. Finally, when the ball was inbounded, it went to RIC freshman guard Anthony Fortes (East Providence, R.I.), whose leaning three-point attempt almost banked in as time expired.
Crean, a sophomore forward from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., was one of three double-figure scorers for the Pride. He scored 18 points, while adding 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists. In addition, sophomore Ryan Blackmon (Stamford, Conn.) tallied a game-high 21 points, shooting 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Senior forward Gregg Daly (Farmington, Conn.) easily had his best game of the season with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
Another who played well for SC was Strawson with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
For RIC, four players scored in double figures. They included Stewart with 16 points, and who shot 6-of-10 from the floor, 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Hill followed with 15 points. Junior forward Kaseem Johnson (New Haven, Conn.) also scored 15 points. He was 6-of-11 from the field. And junior center Wil Lyons (Warwick, R.I) had 10 points.
Springfield, which scored just 39 points three nights ago in a 48-39 loss to Connecticut College, led 44-36 at the half. Blackmon had 12, Crean 11 in that first stanza. Lyons led RIC with 8 at that juncture. In the second half, RIC slowly crept back in it. SC still led by 8 (63-55) with 7:25 left, and by 7 (68-61) with 5:48 left. The Anchormen then went on a 7-0 run, culminated by a lay-up by Johnson with 4:27 left, tying it at 68-all. After Strawson made a free throw with 3:57 left, putting SC up by one, both teams started to make some clutch 3-pointers. Senior guard Jamaal Gibbs (Norwalk, Conn.) put Springfield up by four with 2:37 left. But Stewart answered for RIC with a three with 2:08 remaining. Blackmon made a three-pointer from about 25 feet with 1:38 left, but Hill answered right back with a three with 1:24 to go. Blackmon then made a short jumper with 49 seconds left, putting SC up 77-74, setting up the finish.
Springfield outrebounded RIC, 42-25. The Pride had 17 offensive rebounds in that total. SC shot .474 from the floor (27-of-57), while RIC shot .424 (25-of-59). RIC forced 22 turnovers, while committing just 13. RIC’s largest lead was 5 (24-19) with 11:45 left in the first half.
Springfield is now off until it hosts Gustavus Adolphus Sunday December 30 at 2 pm.