Deputy Sports Editor
From the moment of tip-off, it was clear that the team that pulled through offensively would be the victor in the Saturday afternoon, 125 year celebratory tilt, between the Springfield College women’s basketball team and Worcester State. After nine ties and five lead changes, the Pride was able to corral its fifth win of the year with a 49-43 overtime victory over the Lancers.
“Overtime was the key, we played really well [post-regulation],” said Springfield head coach Naomi Graves. “I think we matched them mentally. We had great possessions, we got stops, [and] had the mentality of ‘we’re not going to lose this.’”
The three point shooting was not there for either team, Worcester State went 1-9 from deep, while the Pride went 0-10. It was an old school game of grit and grind, fitting for the occasion of 125 years of basketball. Springfield’s key offensively was to maintain its poise through shots inside the three point arch.
“Going into overtime, we had confidence that we were going to win,” said Pride forward Heather King. “We [haven’t] always had confidence in our shots [this season], so it was helpful that we had that [late in today’s game].”
A tenacious effort on both the defensive and rebounding from both sides caused the two teams to hold one another under a 35 percent field goal percentage (34.5 percent for Worcester State, 33.3 percent for Springfield). Both units grabbed 41 rebounds for the game.
Although Springfield was able to bring defensive intensity early, forcing several shot clock violations in the second quarter, Worcester State’s tight defense and tough guarding of the post rendered the Pride’s offense out of sync in the first half.
The Lancers fed off of the relentless effort of Bianca Langford, as the forward brought physicality and dominated the Pride on the glass, pulling down 11 rebounds and rejecting two shots. Britt Herring chipped in with rim protection for Worcester State with four blocks. Lancer guard Kate Suprenant netted a floater with 18 seconds remaining to tie the game at 41 in regulation to force overtime.
“We knew that we struggled in the game, it wasn’t our best performance, [but] it doesn’t matter if you have your best or your worst, it matters what happens at the end of the game,” said Graves. “We could have folded very easily in this game but we didn’t.”
Springfield’s offense woke up in the second half of play, as King (16 points, six rebounds), led the late offensive charge for her team with 12 second half points.
“Heather stepped up big,” Graves said. “She played the first two quarters and the rest of the second half. She did a great job of staying poised, attacking, looking for a shot, and not getting gun shy [being afraid to shoot].”
Ava Adamopoulos scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Adamopoulos and King combined for 10 points in the fourth quarter, which helped Springfield surge to the 41 point mark after being down 34-29 at the beginning of the final quarter of regulation. Freshman guard Alex Goslin, who salted the game away with four made free throws in overtime, finished with a line of eight points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
“Our team tends to be a team that reflects on offense, so when we struggle offensively sometimes we struggle defensively,” said Graves. “We just came off of two games that weren’t as physical [as this one]. Getting a couple of quick hoops that were easy and where we didn’t have to grind out, [that’s] something that I want us to work through.”
Turnovers played a large factor throughout the contest, as the Pride and Lancers combined for 44 total. Springfield found its offensive rhythm in the second half by converting Worcester State’s 18 turnovers into points, as Springfield scored 16 total points off of the Lancers’ 26 turnovers.
“We tried to run more [in the second half],” said King. “Even converting one transition play really shifts momentum in your favor. Just having one or two of those plays really helped.”
The Pride’s final opponent before winter break will be the Westfield State Owls on Friday in Westfield. Graves foresees that extending the team’s win streak to five will not be an easy task against the Owls.
“We’re going to have to handle the heat,” she said. “They press, trap, sub five at a time every three to four minutes, and that’s an entirely different style of play that we’re used to. It’ll be good for us to grow from.”