The matchup between Springfield and Emerson on Saturday night included the No. 1 scorer in the NEWMAC conference in Jake Ross (24.4) and the No. 2 scorer in Geoffrey Gray (19.6). Both players put up impressive numbers, as they usually do, but the Pride played better as a unit in the end to pick up its ninth straight victory.
Springfield defeated Emerson, 86-57. The Pride had five players in double-digits scoring: Jake Ross (15), Heath Post (15), Andy McNulty (13), Brandon Eckles (13), Ben Diamond (10).
“We figured they were going to do some things defensively like doubling to get us out of our rhythm and to get Jake (Ross) out of the game,” said Springfield head coach Charlie Brock on his mindset coming into the game. “I thought we made the adjustment well at times, but not all the way, and that’s fine. We didn’t turn the ball over, but we maybe took some shots that were ill-advised.”
The team as a unit has been much more consistent than last year’s team. Post attributes the team’s sustained success this season to more games being under everyone’s belt.
“I think the big thing is the experience,” said Post. “Last year we had a couple games in the second half where we would let it slip away and we got caught in some tricky scenarios. This year we are a little bit more mature. We have great senior leaders and behind that leadership we are more compossed than we were last year.”
Springfield wanted to rely on the three-point shot at times in the first half, but the team couldn’t get it to fall consistently. Springfield shot 5-17 from beyond the arc in the opening half. The team couldn’t get the shot to fall consistently, but they started to fall at timely moments in the Pride’s initial run in the first half.
The opening half was highlighted by a thunderous two-handed dunk on top of an Emerson defender from Heath Post in transition. By the end of an inconsistent at times but exciting first half, the Pride led, 45-26.
On top of the team’s inconsistency from behind the arc, the Pride also had issues from the free throw line all night (14 for 27 from the free throw line).
“That’s a matter of focus,” said Brock. “We need to get back at it. We better get back at it because we are going down to Wheaton and we are going to need everything we can get.
Jake Ross almost had a double-double by halftime. The sophomore went into the break with nine points and nine rebounds.
Gray finished the game with 17 points for Emerson.
“He (Gray) is a very good player,” said Brock. “I thought the length of Heath (Post) and good help helped keep him from getting hot from three, and he is an excellent three-point shooter.”
The Pride is about to go through one of its toughest stretches of the season (Wheaton, MIT WPI, Babson) and at the most crucial time of the year with the postseason on the horizon.
Brock is more worried about what the team has in front of them rather than what is down the road.
“We are going to Wheaton and it is going to be a true test Wednesday. That is our most important thing to worry about right now.”
The Pride plays Wheaton on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Norton, Mass.