By Gage Nutter
It wasn’t the prettiest win in the world, but it got the job done.
Springfield men’s basketball defeated Keene State 73-67 on Tuesday night. Heath Post led the way for the Pride with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Keene State was high intensity on both sides of the floor to say the least. The Owls hopped in and out of playing a full court press on defense, and whenever they were able to get on a run, they pushed the pace to build momentum.
“The big thing we had to do was to deal with their speed and frenetic pace that we don’t see in practice,” said Springfield head coach Charlie Brock. “We had to make the adjustment and play at that pace. Not necessarily to play in their rhythm, but to just be able to deal with the quickness of people. They switch on defense too, we had to deal with that. There were a couple of turnovers that were directly a result of that. For the most part we made the adjustments, there were mistakes made, but for the most part we made the adjustments.”
The Pride came out of the gate slow, just as they did last week against Western New England. Springfield did not score for the first 5:34 of the game and allowed Keene to take an early 8-0 lead.
The Pride started to click offensively mid-way through the opening half. With the help of seven straight points from Post, the Pride obtained its first lead of the game with 6:10 left in the period.
With 0:46 left in the first half, Springfield led 35-26 and were poised to go into the intermission with a nice lead. But after a turnover, a missed three-pointer, and not being able to get back on defense, the Pride went into the break with a much closer 35-32 lead.
Looking to right the wrongs that led to an abysmal end to the first half, the Pride exploded to start the second half with 16-4 run.
Senior Brandon Eckles came up big in the run and contributed seven points during the stretch. Freshman Deonte Sandifer, who has seen a lot of minutes in the last two games, was a lockdown defender during the stretch and throughout the second half.
With 10:10 to go in the second half, a three-pointer by junior Cam Earle (finished with eight points) gave the Pride a 20 point lead.
With the game teetering on a blowout, the Owl’s orchestrated a seven minute 19-8 run to claw themselves back into the game. The run from the Owls included a couple of three-point plays, intensity on its full court press, and defensive prowess that held Springfield to 3-8 shooting during the stretch.
The Owls continued to fight and at one point pulled within three points of the Pride with under a minute left in the game. But with 0:11 left and the Pride leading 71-67, Post went to the line and sunk two free throws to put the game out of reach.
“It came down to allowing them to make three-point plays and getting the ball into the paint,” said Brock about the Owl’s push in the second half. “We are trying to be better in not allowing the ball in the paint, but they were able to.”
With senior Andy McNulty ending the game with six points and Ross getting a lot of attention every time he touched the ball, many different players were poised to have a good game.
”I think we have a nice situation,” said Brock. “If they try and stop Jake [Ross] then Heath has got opportunities. I think Jake does a great job of finding him. He [Jake] had some turnovers tonight, but he also had six assists. Then if those two get shut down, we have nice guys on the perimeter. Cam Earle had a nice couple of shots tonight. We know he is capable [of scoring] and we have full confidence in him to do it.”
Springfield will look to make it three wins in a row on Nov. 28 when the team plays Becker College.