Pride women’s basketball took on the Babson Beavers at Blake Arena on Saturday in one of the team’s biggests games of the regular season.
Babson has been a thorn in Springfield’s side for a while. In the past three seasons, the Beavers have knocked the Pride out of the NEWMAC playoffs. However, when the teams met earlier this season, the Pride came out on top 63-56.
Coming into this game two teams were tied atop the NEWMAC conference with the same conference record of 11-3.
Unlike the first matchup, the Pride couldn’t come out on top. Babson used a strong first half and 19 points from junior guard Tea Spellacy to defeat the Pride, 55-48. Springfield was led by Grace Restituyo who had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The game from the opening tip had all the feelings of a playoff game. The crowd was more electric than it had been all year and both teams were playing as hard as they possibly could.
Babson started out the game jumping to a 14-7 lead on the Pride. Springfield would fire back, and went on a 7-3 run to go into the second quarter down 17-14.
In the second quarter, Babson exploded on offense; scoring 23 points to the Pride’s 11, and went into halftime up 40-26. Spellacy led the way for the Beavers with 15 points during the half.
Springfield has been one of the better defensive teams in the country ranking this season, ranking 32nd in points allowed per game with 51.9. So, letting up 40 points in the first half was uncharacteristic for the team.
Babson’s defense, on the other hand, was the one that was stifling. The Beaver’s 2-3 zone forced bad shots from the Pride, and during a four minute stretch in the second quarter, held Springfield from scoring a point.
“We just did not do a good job of defending them in the first two periods,” said Pride head coach Naomi Graves. “They (Babson) shot the lights out. They were hurting us penetrating the basketball, and on offense we were settling for jumpshots.”
The Pride came out at the start of the third quarter like they were playing with their lives on the line. Led by Restituyo, Springfield constructed a 12-2 run and cut Babson’s lead to five with 4:15 to go in the game.
The Pride finished the quarter outscoring the Beavers 16-6 and trailed only 46-41. Springfield went into the fourth with all the momentum.
“We just had to clarify what our post action was in the zone offense because our post action did not do what we asked earlier,” said Graves. “In the second half it worked.”
Late in the fourth quarter with only 1:38 left to play, Heather King scored a putback layup to cut Babson’s lead to a point. Bianca Tomassini quickly answered with a three plus a on the other end to put the Beavers up four. From there, there was no looking back for Babson.
The Pride have now lost two NEWMAC games in a row and are trending in the wrong direction heading into postseason. Up next they take on Wheaton College on February 17th.
“We have to work on our zone offense and on our high low game,” said Graves. “I think we have to understand the inside out procedure. Grace (Restituyo) can’t be the only offense we have inside.”