For example, the Springfield College men’s basketball team knew going into last night’s conference match-up against Babson College that they would have their work cut out for them. The two teams had identical records of 7-3 in the NEWMAC (16-5 overall), and when Springfield visited Babson earlier in the season, it took five extra minutes to decide the game.
But no amount of statistics can describe the bit of home-court heartbreak suffered by the Pride, who fell to the Beavers 67-61 in the final seconds of Wednesday night’s game.
The Pride kept close to the Beavers early on, but Babson’s Joey Flannery continued to be an offensive threat. The NEWMAC’s points leader finished the first half with 17 points.
Though Flannery was limited to only four points in the second half, both of his shots came in the final minutes of the game to give his team a two-point lead that they built on with four key free throws.
According to junior guard Nick Sienkiewicz, Springfield’s inability to overcome its shaky start posed a challenge as the game wore on.
“We started off too slow,” Sienkiewicz said. “They got an early lead on us and we had to fight back. If we had started off stronger, we probably would have finished a little better.”
At halftime, the Pride found themselves down by 13. The last time they faced Babson, they headed into the locker room ahead by two. Senior forward Tim Swenson said the team knew that something had to change when they took the court again.
“We really needed to come out in the second half and focus and be more aggressive and play physical,” Swenson said. “We started mixing up our offense a little bit and getting better looks.”
Two of Swenson’s nine points came from a dunk over Babson defenders, which brought the score to 51-49 with Babson in the lead. Seconds later, a Babson player was forced into a turnover on a call for traveling, and Swenson posted a layup that put Springfield on even footing with their opponents for the first time that night.
But Swenson’s dunk wasn’t the only play to bring the crowd to its feet. Throughout the game, Sienkiewicz proved why he has the NEWMAC’s highest three-point percentage. His four three-pointers all seemed to come at crucial moments in the game, including the chance to leap frog the Beavers for the lead with four minutes left. He was one of three Pride players, including Sean Martin and Robbie Burke, who finished the night with point totals in double-digits.
In the end, the Pride’s efforts weren’t enough to secure the win, but Swenson knows just what Springfield has to do as they look forward to Saturday’s NEWMAC match-up against Emerson College.
“We’ve just got to play 40 minutes of basketball,” Swenson said, “and we’ll be in every game.”