Sean Martin saved his only field goal of Wednesday night’s 65-63 overtime victory over WPI until the last second. Literally.
After watching Alex Berthiaume hit two free throws to tie the game at 63, Martin and his teammates, as he put it, “just scrambled back on defense.”
After WPI’s Sam Longwell missed a lay-up down at the other end of the floor, Springfield’s Robbie Burke swatted the loose ball back towards half-court where Martin picked up the ball. With WPI’s Jaime Shannon hard on his back, Martin went up strong with the left hand and finished off the glass as time expired.
Teammates and fans alike mobbed Martin after the buzzer sounded, but the sophomore was quick to give credit to one of his teammates following the shot.
“That whole play was because of Robbie Burke. He knocked it loose,” said an exhausted Martin following the emotional win. “I saw it and just chased after it and knew I was faster than all those kids and I was just hoping I got it off in time.”
Martin did get the shot off in time and lifted his team to its fifth straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference victory. The Pride (12-5, 5-1) head to Babson this Saturday for another NEWMAC tilt.
Berthiaume was once again the team’s leading scorer once again despite a tough first half of shooting as a team. Robbie Burke chipped in 16 of his own and played a strong game down low for Springfield.
After a tough first half, where the Pride fell victim to some unfortunate calls by the officials, head coach Charlie Brock had seen enough. Brock was handed two technical fouls and was ejected with 15 minutes and 55 seconds left to play in the game.
Longtime assistant coach Pete Broaca took over the rest of the way.
“Give all the credit to the kids,” said Broaca. “They did a great job, they played hard in the second half and throughout the game and they executed when we needed it. Just a great win for them.”
After watching Brock get ejected, the team’s energy picked up. The Pride outscored the Engineers 18-8 in the seven minutes after the technical was issued to Brock to take a 47-42 lead.
The teams went back and forth for the remaining eight minutes of the second half. WPI’s final possession of the game ended with a missed field goal and a rebound to Springfield.
The ball was inbounded to Berthiaume just beyond the three point arc, but the last- second effort fell short.
Ryan Coburn led his team in overtime with four points while Matt Carr of WPI (14-4, 4-2) had three of his own. Carr led all scorers and finished with 25 points.
“We worked hard all night,” said Coburn. “We missed a lot of layups and missed a lot of free throws in the first half but went in tied because we played great defense.”
Me and Evan [Christner] were able to get back in there in the second half, and [our teammates] played so hard for us we had to give it back.”
Sitting on the bench for the majority of the first half was tough for the big man, but his four critical points in overtime kept his team close and gave them a chance to win.
“We’ve always gone at it with [WPI],” said Coburn. “They’ve always been a team that’s beaten us, and we’ve got a good team this year and we’re excited to have beaten them.”
Notebook: While the majority of the Springfield College campus was enjoying a much-needed break from school, the men’s basketball team (13-5, 5-1) entered the meat of their 2011-2012 schedule. Since returning to action on December 31, the Pride have gone 6-2.
More importantly, however, Springfield is 5-1 in NEWMAC conference play. Their lone loss came at the hands of MIT to tip off league action.
Since falling to the Engineers, the Pride have rattled off four straight wins. Captain Alex Berthiaume has led the team in scoring in five of the six NEWMAC games, including a 28-point night against Coast Guard on Jan 7.
Like any good team, the Pride’s balanced scoring attack has been tough for teams to defend. Aside from Berthiaume, five players are averaging between 7.0 and 8.7 points per game.
Freshman standout Nick Sienkiewicz is averaging 7.6 points per game, good enough for third on the team. Along with Rote and Sienkiewicz, Ryan Coburn, Pat Rossi and Robbie Burke are all averaging at least 7.0 points per game.
Coburn, the team’s senior captain, has also been a rock defensively. The Rhode Island native has 56 blocks on the season.
Sean Martin, a sophomore who has recently been inserted into the starting lineup by head coach Charlie Brock, has also contributed defensively with 22 steals, good for second on the team.
Assistant Coach Pete Broaca spoke about what’s next for the Pride after the big win at home.
“We need to have two good practices these next two days because we’re going to Babson on Saturday,” said Broaca.
“They didn’t shoot the ball well the first time we played them, but it’s always a tough game when we go there.”
Corey Hanlon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org