For a game that started off slow, the intensity quickly rose when it mattered most. In the last home game of the season at Blake Arena, the Springfield College women’s basketball team came up just short against NEWMAC foe Smith College, 57-54.
Facing a deficit of 38-26 with just 14 minutes to play, Springfield’s chances to make a comeback didn’t look bright. All of a sudden the Pride dug themselves out of their late-first half hole and put pressure on Smith right to the end. Despite the loss, Springfield coach Naomi Graves was still pleased with her team’s effort.
“I am the most proud of my team right now. Smith’s one of the tougher teams [in the NEWMAC],” Graves said.
Freshman Ava Adamopoulos sank two crucial free throws to put the Pride down two points with 45 seconds left in the game. With just 16 seconds remaining, the Pride set up the play for their leading scorer, Jaimie Bickelhaupt. Bickelhaupt received the ball at the top of the key and her three-point attempt rattled out. It was a disappointing way for the Pride to end the game, but the rest of the team was content with Bickelhaupt having the last shot.
“When Jaimie’s on the floor, you’ve got to go with her. Win or lose that shot was her shot,” Graves said.
Springfield’s effort and willingness to win kept them in the game, but they did not shoot well. Bickelhaupt and Adamopoulos were the only Pride players to score in double figures, as Bickelhaupt had 15 points and 11 rebounds while Adamopoulos complemented her with 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Pride opened up the game on a 9-0 run, not allowing the Pioneers to get their first basket until the 10:51 mark in the first half. But, just when Springfield had their opponents on their toes, they fought their way back into the contest. Smith’s Mandy Castro hit a three-point bucket to give her team their first lead of the game at 19-18 with just under four minutes remaining in the half. From there, Smith College never looked back.
After starting off the game slow, Smith stepped up their defensive intensity and wreaked havoc on the Pride offense. The Pioneers’ second leading scorer, Paulina Solis, had a very strong performance with 23 points. Sydney Parkmond was a force in the paint, contributing with 11 points and seven rebounds.
The last time these teams faced off, the outcome was much different. Smith used home court to their advantage and outscored the Pride 44-27 in the second half to give them an 82-64 victory. Graves touched on what happened in their last meeting and how it changed this time around.
“We couldn’t run against them, so we had to walk the ball more today,” Graves stated.
The Pride’s next match-up will be a visit to Mount Holyoke on February 19. The Pride are now 13-10 overall and even at 9-9 in the conference. Even though Smith has the same overall record as Springfield, they remain dominant in the conference at 13-5 and in sole possession of second place.