By Nico Fiscella
On a windy Wednesday night, The No. 1 seeded Springfield College men’s basketball faced off against the No. 5 seeded Coast Guard in Blake Arena.
This NEWMAC semifinal matchup was destined to be competitive, as the last time these two teams faced off it went to double overtime. Springfield was able to secure the victory in that game, but Coast Guard was not going to let it happen twice.
That game turned into a historic night for senior forward Jake Ross. He led the team with 55 points and 21 rebounds.
Ross put the team on his back again on Friday night however, Coast Guard flipped the script on the one-seeded Pride.
Both Jake Ross and Heath Post started the game off hot, as the Pride began the game with a 7-0 run. The offensive continued to explode for Springfield, as in a blink of an eye, the team was up 13-2.
It took Coast Guard Academy over three minutes to finally put some points on the board. However, once the Bears started scoring, all momentum went to Coast Guard.
As the first half progressed, the offensive struggles of the Pride were very clear.
“We were not making our easy shots… we missed a lot of layups,” Coach Charlie Brock said.
The Pride struggled in the paint when attempting contested put-back layups.
Once Coast Guard took the lead at 14-13, Springfield was stuck playing catch up for the majority of the half.
The team’s struggles were something Brock made very apparent when heading into the locker room down by four at half time.
“We got off to a good start, and then we fizzled completely,” he said. “We just weren’t prepared to go the distance.”
Ross knew the stakes with it possibly being their final game of the season and Coast Guard made the bad decision to let him get hot. In what felt like a matter of seconds, Ross erupted to keep Springfield in the game.
Ross had yet another absurd stat line on the night: 44 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals. His efficient shooting continued as well, but Coast Guard found a way to respond to every Springfield bucket.
The interior defense of Springfield could not control the Bears. Coast Guard had a 51.6 field goal percentage while only shooting 2-12 from behind the arc.
The consistent scoring from Coast Guard was no match for Springfield, as they defeated the Pride, 88-82.
“They responded every time they were challenged, you have to give them all the credit in the world, Coast Guard was outstanding,” said Coach Brock.
The Bears will face off against WPI in the NEWMAC championship game on Sunday.
The Pride are now waiting for a bid to the NCAA tournament. With nothing set in stone yet, Brock knows the mindset heading forward,
“If we get in, this would be a serious wake-up call for us,” he said.
With four seniors on the roster, they look to motivate this team as their time on the court continues to shrink.
“They are going to be highly motivated to do things so there isn’t another letdown,” Brock said.
With nothing but time in their schedule, Springfield has a lot of thinking to do while waiting for a possible appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda