It was a split decision for the Springfield College men’s basketball team this past weekend in Pittsburgh at the Carnegie Mellon/DoubleTree Invitational.
The squad fell victim to a loss on Saturday in overtime, suffering a 89-82 loss at the hands of the Hampden-Sydney Tigers from Virginia. The Pride however, turned things around Sunday, trouncing Penn State New Kensington 109-62, thus returning to their winning ways, improving their record to 4-1 in the early stages of this season.
The game against Hampden-Sydney was a nail-biter, as Springfield started off in a hole early on, but brought it to a much narrower margin about halfway through the first. From there on out, the game moved like a pendulum, with the lead constantly shifting back and forth. By the time the final 20 minutes ticked away, no decisive winner had been decided, so the two sides headed into overtime.
Overtime was all Hampden-Sydney, as they scored first and refused to relinquish the lead throughout the remainder of the five-minute overtime, only allowing Springfield to tie the game once in the extra frame.
The game was not a total loss, as Hampden-Sydney was eighth in the country coming into the match, proving the Pride can handle the top competition in the country. Moreover, there were prime statistical performances by senior Robbie Burke, who notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, and senior guard Sean Martin, who put up 19 points.
“We were forced to play against some big players and had to learn how to shut them down. But we know where we stand and must still continue to improve offensively and defensively to reach our goals,” said sophomore Larry Piretra, who put in 22 minutes of work.
Sunday was a much different story, however, as the Pride jumped out early against PSUNK and kept it up the entire game, even tripling the Nittany Lions’ point totals at one point. In fact, the Pride never trailed and were only tied at two points in the game: 0-0 and 2-2.
The game was just what the Pride needed after Saturday, sending them back to Springfield with plenty of momentum.
“We had a lot of wasted possessions [against Hampden-Sydney] in which we took either quick shots or bad shots that led to turnovers. We tried to make this a focal point in our game vs PSUNK and will continue to focus on improving this throughout the season,” said Piretra, who grabbed eight boards on Sunday, second only to Robbie Burke’s 12.
Freshman guard Nick McKenna had a standout performance for Springfield with 20 points, going 4–of-7 from beyond the arc over the course of 24 minutes while sophomore Alex Garstka put up 16 points with six rebounds.
The weekend provided the Pride an opportunity to test their talent against top talent, and teams they would not otherwise face. As a result, they were faced with challenges they are not accustomed to seeing.
“We [had to learn] to change our game plan on the fly. There were some things we were able to see on film, but the in-game situations were most important in figuring out how to play the two teams we saw in Pittsburgh,” said Piretra.
Springfield will look to replicate their performance from Sunday in Williamstown, Mass. this Saturday as they take on Williams College.