By Gage Nutter and Marcelino Diaz
It was another “Jake Ross game,” folks.
With the help of of 32 points from the freshman Ross, the Pride squeaked by the Engineers of WPI 73-70 Saturday afternoon to improve to 10-9 overall and 4-4 in the NEWMAC.
For the entire 40 minutes, Ross played poised and confident. He took catch and shoot three-pointers without a second thought, finished gritty contact layups under the hoop, and communicated efficiently with his teammates on the defensive end.
Pride head coach Charlie Brock is happy to have someone as consistent as Ross on the team not only when it comes to his scoring ability, but his willingness to pass the ball as well.
“He is a go-to guy,” said Brock. “The one thing I can count on as much as Jake scoring is that if he is not in a position to score, he will look for someone else.”
15 of Ross’ 32 points came from behind the arc, for him, once he sees the ball go in a few times to start the game, it’s almost automatic.
“I got a couple easy looks early on and a few ‘one more’s’ from my teammates,” said Ross. “Once I saw a few go in my confidence got going, I feel like I was in a pretty good flow.”
Kevin Durkin – the Pride’s 6’8” starting center – went down early with a leg injury. That left the paint susceptible to scoring on the defensive end for the Pride, and WPI took advantage. The Engineers outscored the Pride in the paint 42-24, 60% of their points ended up coming from the paint to end the game.
Durkin’s injury did put a wrench into the Pride’s plan defensively, but Brock and his coaching staff made adjustments on the fly.
“We had to play without Kevin because he went out with an injury in the first few minutes and I think I threw my substitution sheet at [assistant coach Will Schlosser], hopefully nobody saw that,” said Brock. “That did put a bit of a change into how we were going to do things moving forward, but we figured it out. [Anthony Reynolds] came in and gave some quality minutes off the bench as well, so the guys really picked it up.”
The Pride will host MIT on Wednesday at 7. The last time the Pride took on MIT was in a 79-58 loss on Jan. 14.
Brock feels like his team is ready for the Engineers this second time around.
“It is a different game,” said Brock. “We have them at home now, I do not think we were at full strength when we played them the first time. When you play a team for a second time you always have a better feel for what they are, as well as for what works and what does not.”