By Danny Priest
Early in the first half of a Wednesday night NEWMAC Conference matchup between the Springfield College Pride and Coast Guard, it appeared as though the game was going to be a blowout victory for the Pride.
Another check in the win column on what had been a 16-3 mark for the Pride coming into the game.
The team had built up a 20 point lead with 5:50 left to play in the first half and it appeared as though it was business as usual.
By the time the 12 minute mark of the second half came around, the game was tied at 54 a piece and the Pride didn’t have their usual bounce in their step.
They needed something.
A spark – anything really.
What they got was history.
Senior guard Jake Ross scored a career high 55 points on the night to lead his team to a double overtime, historic 105-99 victory over Coast Guard.
Layups, fade away jumpers, post-ups, three-pointers, foul shots, just name the type of shot.
Ross took them and he made them.
All night long.
It’s one thing to score over half of a team’s points when the team eclipses 100 points on the night. It’s another to do it while shooting nearly 50 percent for the game.
Ross finished at 48.7 percent shooting on the night (20-41 from the field, 5-10 from three) and on top of his scoring, he added 21 rebounds (also a career high), three assists, and five steals.
Coast Guard had no answer for Ross. Whether he was behind the three-point line, mid-range, or working inside; the Bears could not find any way to stop him.
For Ross, his previous career high had been 42 points in a game against Emerson last January. He passed that mark on Wednesday night and then some.
Ross broke the long standing 50 year old record of 50 points scored in a game that was played back in the 1970s against Holy Cross.
After the game, Ross was happy to have made history, but he was less than pleased with his team’s performance against a team the Pride felt they were better than.
With this basket, Jake Ross just broke the Springfield College record for points in a single game with 52.
— Danny Priest (@dpriest3) February 6, 2020
“I mean, it’s obviously something to be proud of and happy for, but we should have beat them team well and early in that game. We had them by almost 20 in the first half and to let them get back into it at this point in the season is a little disappointing,” Ross said.
“The fact that it happened in a game like this is kind of take it with a grain of salt, it’s a little frustrating as well from a team aspect, I don’t think we really showed up. I’m happy, but definitely could have been better.”
Head Coach Charlie Brock has been coaching basketball for a very long time, and still the performance by Ross was one of the best he’s ever seen. However, like Ross, he was more focused on the team’s performance.
“I have not,” Brock said when asked if he’d seen a scoring performance like that before. “Quite frankly I had no idea what the scoring was, I just knew that we were playing very poorly and they played great, give them all the credit in the world. We weren’t ready to play and they very definitely were.”
Lost in all the history of Ross’s performance was the fact that Wednesday night’s game was very competitive. After letting their early lead slip, the Pride needed two overtimes to take down Coast Guard.
In total, Springfield finished the game shooting 40.2 percent from the field (35-87) and 29.6 percent from three point range (8-27).
Given the shooting struggles the Pride needed Ross, but in the second overtime, they did get some much needed help from other guys.
In the second and final overtime period several guys made big plays when they needed to most. Trey Witter, Heath Post, and Noah Cummings opened the frame up with back-to-back-to-back difficult finishes inside which helped the Pride mount a 103-99 lead.
That momentum was capped off when Heath Post threw down a dunk off the inbound with 19 seconds left to give Springfield a 105-99 win, improving their record to 17-3 on the season and 8-1 in NEWMAC play.
A historic performance and a big time win all wrapped into one.
For the Pride, the attention now shifts to their Saturday matchup with Emerson. A team that has beaten them the last two times they’ve played, including ending their season in last year’s NEWMAC Championship semifinal game.
For Ross, who was held to just 14 points on 2-13 shooting last time out against the Lions, he knows the game is a must win.
“Yeah definitely. I’ve struggled against them a couple games in my career and I think they do a good job making things hard,” Ross said. “It’s going to be important to get guys involved early and (get) guys confidence going. If they want to try to stop me and Heath, then we’ll have Daryl, Collin, Trey and all the other guys step up. I’m pretty confident that we’ll be ready for that.”
That game is scheduled to tip-off at 3:00 p.m. in Blake Arena this Saturday.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Arruda