With 10:30 left in the second half, the Minutemen’s Rayshawn Miller shot a jumper that missed and bounced straight in the air off the back iron. As nine players on the court gazed at the ball in the midst of its flight, the Minutemen’s Unique Maclean took action. Maclean elevated, grabbed the ball with two hands, and flushed it through the hoop with righteous force that riled up the UMass crowd.
At that point the Pride only trailed 56-45, but it felt like the outcome had been decided.
Springfield fell to UMass Amherst 82-60 at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass. on Friday night. Junior Cam Earle led the Pride with 14 points in the loss, followed by Andy McNulty with 13 and Jake Ross with nine.
Earle displayed in his debut that he can be a viable scorer for the Pride this season. He shot 5-9 from the field in the game (4-6 from three-point range). Most of his scoring was done on a catch-and-shoot basis from the corners, but it was effective.
“I really like it,” said Pride head coach Charlie Brock when asked how he felt about Earle’s performance. “He brings a nice situation to the table with his release. If anyone wants to learn how to shoot he might want to be somebody that you do some videotape on.”
At halftime the Pride only trailed 38-35 and held UMass to an abysmal 0-9 from three-point range. It was only three points that separated a Division III program from a Division I program that is three years removed from a Division I national tournament appearance.
The Minutemen upped its intensity in the second half and started to assert its dominance in the passing lanes and on the glass. UMass outrebounded the Pride on the offensive glass 14-6 and scored an eye popping 25 points off of turnovers by the end of the game.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, you always want to play better,” said Brock. “But I thought it was a great opportunity for our guys. There were some things that were expected. They hurt us on the offensive glass, both sides actually in the second half. They shot extremely well in the second half, and we not so much.”
Another player that performed well for Springfield was Richard Jacobson. Although he finished was a decent five points, three assists, and two rebounds; he asserted himself on the defensive end and trusted his shot on the offensive end.
“[Jacobson] was another kid that wasn’t in the program last year and came out again [this year]. He really worked hard in the weight room and on his skills,” said Brock. “That’s a credit to what happens with a kid that really works hard and gives it another shot. I think he did a great job tonight.”
The Pride may not have defeated UMass like they did when Julius “Dr. J” Irving played for the squad in 1971, but the team showed sparks of efficiency against a Division I program for a few stretches in the first half, and that is something to be proud of and harness moving forward.
Springfield will look to build off the positives in the loss when the team takes on Western New England in the Pride’s home opener on Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.