In a neck-and-neck game from the very beginning, the Springfield College men’s basketball team (6-10, 3-3 NEWMAC) managed to edge out Clark University (5-12, 2-4 NEWMAC) 72-67 as they battled it out for the first time this season at Blake Arena.
After a 16-7 start for Clark, the Pride picked up their offense starting with forward Brandon Eckles to set the tone. Eckles and guard Josh Altman held up for most of the Pride’s offense in the first half, scoring 15 of their 32 points.
“Our offense is structured to get the ball to the post and today I knew I had an advantage. I wanted to aggressive and provide some energy for us,” Eckles said.
Nine turnovers haunted the first half for Springfield and Clark took advantage of them as they went on a 12-2 run with less than five minutes to go. Luckily, senior Quinn Mckenna ended the run with an easy layup and Eckles ended up with the ball in his hands again as time was expiring. Eckles reacted quickly and connected with a pull-up jumper as the clock dwindled down to zero.
However, the Pride were still down by two.
“Yeah, we had some mistakes on offense. We had three offensive charges in the first half and a lot of turnovers that were uncalled for,” Coach Charlie Brock said.
Springfield cleaned up their offense in the second half and got one of their top scorers, Josh Downes, involved. If he didn’t score 14 of his 16 points in the second half of the game, Clark may have ran away with the lead.
“Josh (Downes) is a huge part of everything we do, so getting him going is always a plus,” Eckles said.
What a plus it was for the Pride.
Senior Larry Piretra was involved greatly in the game, but fouled out with a minute left in the game after an impressive performance on the court. Piretra contributed to the Pride’s win with his 13 points, 7 rebounds and an incredibly clutch three-point shot with 1:27 left on the clock that ultimately sealed the win.
“Larry is aggressive, he’s going to play and I don’t want him to back off at all,” Brock said on Piretra fouling out.
Led by Altman with 19 points in the win, the Pride spread the ball evenly the whole game, leading to four total players over double-digit points for the game. Downes poured in 16, Piretra netted 13 and Eckles scored 11.
Springfield has yet to be defeated by the Cougars since 2012, and with their win today their overall record against Clark is now an extremely impressive 57-22.
The Pride have won three of their last four games, and look to continue their two-game winning streak in a rivalry matchup at home against Western New England on Monday, January 25th.