Alex Berthiaume knew his team had a chance to take down the No.3 team in the country Friday in Blake Arena. However, Berthiaume’s career high 32 points weren’t enough as the Pride (5-1) fell 81-71 to Amherst College (5-0) in the Pioneer Valley Classic.
“We knew coming in that they were a really good team,” said Berthiuame. “We also had a lot of confidence in ourselves, and if we could take a couple offensive possessions and defensive possessions, we could have won that game.”
Friday’s loss was the first of the season for Springfield. Their 5-0 start was the best since the 1997-1998 season when Springfield rattled off nine wins to start the season.
Right from the start, Berthiuame used his quickness to get to the hoop and finish. Amherst had no answer for the junior transfer out of St. Michael’s who finished with 12 first-half points.
Slideshow created by Justin Felisko/The Student
Springfield trailed 37-33 at half time. Head Coach Charlie Brock’s team defended well out of the zone and kept Amherst to 12-30 (40 percent) from the field.
“We’re close, we’re really close which is good,” said Brock following the loss. “We would have like a different result, but if we can take back three or four possessions on both ends there would have been a different outcome.”
One possession that hurt Springfield came with just over 13 minutes to play in the second half. Senior center Ryan Coburn was called for his third and fourth fouls on the same possession and had to come out of the game.
“Coburn picking up his fourth changed the rotation and a lot of things and the way we like to do them with more time left in the game than we would have like,” said Brock.
Despite Coburn’s missing presence, Amherst turned to Aaron Toomey and Taylor Barrise down the stretch. Toomey made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and was perfect from the charity stripe (8-8).
Behind the lights out shooting down the stretch, Amherst built a ten point lead that Springfield couldn’t catch. Matt Pascuzzo hit a big three to cut the lead to five with just under one minute to play, but Toomey hit his free throws at the other end to squander any comeback.
“These games mean a lot to us,” said Berthiaume about the non-conference tilt with Amherst. “We have confidence that we can play with any team in the nation right now.”
Corey Hanlon may be reached at email@example.com