SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College men’s basketball coach Charlie Brock doesn’t believe in moral victories.
He believes in results and seeing improvement.
“We need to get a bit better every day,” he said after Saturday night’s loss.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Pride were losers of four-straight — their externally hype-fueled start to a season marginally deflated. Now, with the No. 2 ranked Williams Ephs coming to town, it wasn’t going to be any easier getting out of its rutt.
Springfield College (2-5) men’s basketball was defeated by Williams College (9-0) Saturday night, 75-71. Heath Post and Jake Ross led the way offensively for the Pride — each chipping in 24 points. Kevin Durkin had a solid day as well, contributing eight clutch points down the stretch. Williams’ Bobby Casey led the way for the Ephs with 24 points. The loss is the Pride’s fifth in a row.
Williams, who boasted, potentially, the tallest roster the Pride will face all season, were efficient in all facets of the game — especially offense.
“They just execute offensively very well. Shot very well,” said Brock. “They were upwards of 50 percent shooting in the first half…they are probably as long a team we will see.”
The Pride didn’t start the game with its best foot forward. Williams started the game with a 13-2 run and forced Springfield to call a timeout at the 15:48 mark. Offensively, the Pride did a good job of running sets for players like Jake Ross and Cam Earle, but the Ephs were just better at defending them. As Ross and Earle received passes off of screens, it seemed like a Williams defender was attached to their hips. Ross and Earle were a combined 2-15 from the field in the first half.
Springfield started to close the gap, partially due to the fact that Williams started to cool off from the field, around the 12-minute mark of the opening half. Three-pointers from Daryl Costa and Jacob Jacobson, coupled with a few buckets from Heath Post, brought the score to 17-12.
But that was the closest the game got in the first half. It was tough sledding for the Pride on both sides of the ball in the latter portion of the first half. Williams, utilizing its collective length, had a hand in almost every passing lane and was intelligent with its off-ball movement and play sets.
A bright spot in the half, in addition to 13 points from Heath Post, was the play of freshman Daryl Costa. In one instance, he brought the ball down court with blistering speed and to the rack to draw a foul. After two made free throws, he tipped a pass on the other end to give Springfield possession.
Post was fouled while taking a three-pointer at the end of the half and went two for three at the line to bring the score at the break to 38-25.
Post opened up the second half with a three-pointer to get the Springfield crowd reengaged in the game. A few minutes later, Deonte Sandifer came up with an offensive rebound over two Williams players to earn an extra possession. After corralling the ball, he looked up top and found Post open for three. He cashed in to close the gap to 49-38 with 14:53 to go.
Williams came into the game as one of the best rebounding teams in the region. Despite the final result, Brock was happy with how the team managed the Ephs’ ability to rebound the ball.
“(Williams) were coming into this game with a plus 18 (rebounding differential) on the glass,” said Brock. “Part of that is because they prevent teams from shooting well. They get a lot of defensive rebounds and some offensive, but we held them to six (offensive rebounds) in the game. I thought that was another sign of a step forward (for us).”
After being held to a pedestrian four points in the first half, Ross started to put the ball in the net in the second half.
His effort was one of the catalysts in bringing the Pride back into the game. After a Ross three-pointer with 14:02 to go, the Pride were within 10 points.
Ross’ three was the beginning of an impressive run.
In the next five minutes of game time, Ross, Post and Earle hit three pointers to not only tie the game, but get everyone in Blake Arena on their feet.
Earle, after a tough first half shooting, came up big with a steal in addition to his three-pointers in the second half to keep the score close.
Unfortunately for the Pride, the team’s play peaked with its performance at the midway point of the second half.
Springfield’s play slowly started reverting back to the way in which they performed in the first half in between the nine and six minute mark, a span that saw the team fall behind 66-58. But a three-pointer from Ross brought the crowd back into the game.
The shot turned out to be the turning point Springfield needed, over the next few minutes, the team started to turn things around thanks to the finishing of contested shots from the likes of Ross and Post. Durkin chipped in an uncharacteristic baseline jump shot to close the gap to 71-68 and force a Williams timeout with 3:09 to go.
A minute later, Heath Post made another three-pointer to close the gap to 73-71, but that was the closest Springfield would get to victory.
The Pride went 0-4 in the last two minutes of the game and Williams executed on the boards to escape with a 75-71 victory.
The 75 points from Williams was by far the team’s lowest offensive output of the season to date (the program came into the game averaging 92.8 points per-game).
Although the defensive showcase was valiant from the Pride, as Brock acknowledged post game, he is still a firm believer in results.
“I don’t (believe in moral victories),” he said.
With Ross having missed time earlier in the season, the Pride has had to endure some lineup changes the last few weeks.
But, with the junior star back and Durkin fully healthy after an injury nagged him in the preseason, Brock feels like now is the time for the team to come together and steadily improve day by day.
“We need to everday get a bit better,” he said. “We have had hiccups with guys out — just trying to find the right rotation. (Durkin) is fully healthy, which is a huge help. Plus he didn’t get in foul trouble (today).”
He added, “Their length does a lot of things. They are probably as long a team we will see. I haven’t really seen Amherst yet, they have two really long guys inside, but I don’t know, as a five man across, if they will have the length that Williams does.”
Coming into the season, the Pride was ranked No. 7 in a national poll put out by d3hoops.com. Now, with five losses on its resume, the Pride have fallen out of the top 25.
The expectations put on the team coming into the season were high. Now, with an under .500 record, Brock hopes that the team can learn and grow from its early-season woes.
“There is no carry over. Ever. Not from one season to the next, or one game to the next, frankly,” said Brock. “Unless you fight for it. Good execution is a privilege that is worked for, not something that is a given right. There is no carry over.”
Featured photo courtesy of Jack Margaros