By Gage Nutter
Assistant Sports Editor
Springfield men’s basketball got the ball rolling in the right direction and brought its three game losing skid to a halt Wednesday with a 80-74 win over Coast Guard. Freshman Jake Ross led the way with 21 points, followed by junior Andy McNulty who finished with 18.
The Pride’s three game skid prior to this win could not have come at a more inopportune time. The team appeared to be trending in the upward direction after their historic win against then-ranked No. 1 Amherst College, which was then followed by three straight wins.
However, after the loss to No. 1 Babson College on Jan. 7th, the team hit a slump and dropped two games in a row against NEWMAC foes Wheaton and MIT. Things would have started to get bleak if the squad dropped fourth league game in a row, but with the help of the two-headed monster of Ross and McNulty on offense, and relentless post defense from junior Brandon Eckles, that was not going to happen.
“Obviously winning streaks are better than losing streaks,” said Pride head coach Charlie Brock. “Now we have to go to Clark and get one on the road, which we have done, if we can do that then that will put us in a good spot with the rest of our conference games.”
The hype around the men’s basketball team has been at an all-time high since the squads historic win against Amherst College earlier this season. The filled bleachers and rowdy Springfield faithful was the proof. After a relaxing day of syllabus reading for students, patrons could have done a lot of other things with their free time, but they decided to come and pack Blake Arena.
“For the most part we played the type of game people want to come and see,” Brock said. “One of the stats that strikes me is that we had 18 assists on 18 baskets. That means we are playing together and working together to find things that work in the offense, and that is what people want to see.”
Behind Ross and McNulty, the play of freshman Heath Post (14 points, 5 rebounds) flew under the radar, but he did the little things to help his team succeed. Whether it was getting into the paint and drawing a foul, communicating and moving efficiently on defense, or flushing clutch free throws down the stretch, his impact was felt.
“Tonight i just played my game,” said Post. “In the first half I think I was forcing it a little bit and taking some poor shots, but in the second half I started getting to the free throw line (7-9 FT) and was able to knock them down.”
In every game, win or lose, there are positives and negatives to be drawn. On one side, the Pride showed they have the tenacity to play anyone with the help of their endurance late in games. On the flip side however, if they want to succeed consistently late in games they have to get more aggressive on the boards and communicate better as a unit on defense.
“We are gritty enough to the point where I feel like we can win any game,” said Brock. “With five minutes left in the game we were tied, and when you get in that situation that is like playing in overtime. I thought we did well with embracing that mindset. From a negative standpoint we absolutely have to work on our defensive rebounding and command on the defensive end.”
Springfield looks to make it back-to-back wins this Saturday when they take on Clark University in Worcester, Mass. at 3 p.m.