The Springfield College women’s basketball team found themselves 16.3 seconds away from defeat in their season opener at Blake Arena on Tuesday night.
Down 59-57 to cross-town rival Western New England, the Pride gave the ball to senior Heather Lewis. The co-captain from Saratoga Springs, NY, hit a running layup from the left side to tie the game up at 59 with just six seconds remaining. After a missed layup attempt by the Golden Bears, the contest progressed to overtime.
From there, Springfield took control on their home court. The maroon and white held on for the 70-65 victory over Western New England.
“I thought we did some really good things in the second half,” said head coach Naomi Graves. “I thought we executed really, really well.”
Graves couldn’t be more spot on about execution as that proved to help her team overcome. After leading for all of the first two quarters, Springfield had the 28-23 lead at halftime. The Pride then saw their lead gradually slip away in the third quarter.
The Golden Bear’s Allison Mishol hit a three from the top of the key to give her team their first lead at 31-30.
From there, the Pride and the Golden Bear’s traded baskets but Western New England was able to sustain their lead, up 52-45 with about four minutes left in the game.
It looked like Graves’s team had their backs against the wall but junior Lexi Windwer hit a three to cut the lead to four. Just two minutes later, Windwer came right back and nailed another three that not only sent the crowd and the Pride bench wild, but cut the Golden Bear lead to 57-55.
Having the resilience and willingness to fight until the very end proved to make the biggest impact.
“Everybody worked hard and we just believed that we were going to win and we never gave up,” said junior Ava Adamopoulos.
Adamopoulos was a key part to Springfield’s run late in the game. Besides playing tough inside by grabbing rebounds, the Ludlow, Mass native converted on quite a few big shots.
Down 55-50 late in the fourth quarter, Adamopoulos made a big block then followed it up with a layup to cut the Golden Bear lead to three.
In overtime, Adamopoulos hit a jumper from the right side that would put Springfield up 67-63.
Adampoulous’s impact went a long way during the Pride’s fight back. The center finished with a team-high 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“She’s done some good things, she’s done some really good things,” said Graves. “I’m hoping it’s going to continue, it’s just the beginning.”
Adamopoulos attributed all of her success to her teammates and what they focus on with each other.
“We talk about having each other’s backs,” said Adamopoulos. “My teammates believed in me and I knew that they trust me so it just made me more confident.”
Graves received plenty of other contributions. Lewis had 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting. Windwer had 12 points, including three three’s, and the two crucial ones proved to be a stepping stone towards Springfield’s comeback.
The Golden Bears were led by Emily Anderson who had a game-high 21 points. Chelsea Vujs also chipped in with 15 points.
Earning the hard-earned victory down the stretch at home in the season opener over a rival showed how special a rivalry game can be. Graves was quick to praise Golden Bear’s coach Nicole Chaszar.
“I know her really well, her teams are well prepared, I thought her team played hard,” said Graves.
Springfield now moves on to the NYU Invitational where they will face Heidelberg on Saturday at 2 pm.