After being up as much as 15, the Springfield College women’s basketball’s sizable lead had been cut nearly in half with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
A hard-fought game through and through, an important possession ensued – an opportunity to extend the lead back to 10 and put away the game for good.
And when the Pride needed a bucket, they went to junior forward Kayla Madden just as they had all night.
Madden Received a pass from Rachel Vinton near the top of the key, and without hesitation drilled her third three pointer of the night – this one from well behind the arc – to secure the 79-65 win for Pride.
Springfield head coach Naomi Graves commended Madden after the game, who scored a career-high 27 points, and came up clutch in several moments.
“There were many times where she [Madden] kept us in the game,” Graves said. “She’s really stepped up big for us all season and it was nice to see her score.”
Although Springfield ended up with a double digit win, it was close for the majority of the game.
To start off the first quarter, Albertus Magnus jumped out to an early 8-2 lead.
Led by Caitlyn Scott (24 points), the Falcons continued to get easy shots, as they scored 19 first quarter points. The Pride, despite the slow start, eventually found their rhythm and clung to only a two point lead after one.
“We know we have confidence [offensively] when we get stops,” Madden said. “ We eventually were able to run, get our sets and get good shots.”
As the second quarter began, the Pride turned their newly found offensive momentum into a 14-2 run. Although the Falcons had gotten their way early in the first, Springfield switched from matchup defense to a zone, stifling Albertus Magnus.
“We needed to stop their dribble penetration in the middle of the floor,” Graves said. “We weren’t having good help side rotations [so] we needed to make a change.”
And although for the time being it helped, the Falcons would just not go away as they closed out the quarter strong and only faced a seven-point halftime deficit.
Sam Hourihan started the third quarter on fire, scoring 11 of her 25 points in the frame, allowing Springfield to head into the fourth with a 59-46 lead.
Just as Springfield was in a position to put the game away, Scott would not let the Falcons surrender. She put up eight of her 24 points in the fourth, scoring timely bucket after timely bucket for the Falcons.
But it wasn’t enough.
The Pride, who had the clear height advantage, used that to dominate the boards, out rebounding the Falcons 51-31.
Madden finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Hourihan added 25 points and 14 rebounds. The frontcourt tandem both finished with double-doubles in the win. Rachel Vinton chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds and controlled the pace of play throughout.
Graves was proud of the way her team responded to being down early, and is excited to see what the team will show after a two-week break from games.
“I wanted to finish out the beginning season with a win in our house,” Graves said. “ We did just that, and we grew stronger [as a team] today.”
The Pride improved to 9-1 and will take on Trinity College in the Naismith Challenge on Friday Dec. 30 in Blake Arena.
(Photos courtesy of Garrett Cote)