It had all the drama that their previous meeting had, but Saturday afternoon’s NEWMAC contest between Babson College and the Pride of Springfield College ended a little earlier than their last overtime duel on Jan. 10. With 42 seconds remaining, Babson’s John Wickey drilled a three-pointer, clinching a 69-65 victory for the Beavers over the Pride. The loss brings Springfield College to 14-6 (5-2) on the season while the Beavers improve to 10-10 (3-4).
Senior Alex Berthiaume led the Pride in scoring with 21 points, followed by 11 points from Sean Martin. For the Beavers, Wickey connected for 21 points with Matt Palazini trailing shortly behind with 15 points.
The final minute consisted of back-and-forth scoring from both Springfield and Babson. After Wickey nailed his dagger three with 42 seconds to play, the Pride countered with a triple of their own from Nick Sienkiewicz and closed the gap to 67-62.
With his team in a hole and just 12 seconds to play, Coach Charlie Brock called a timeout. He knew his defense on the following inbounds plays would be crucial, and they needed a steal.
“We were trying to deny the ball in and face guard to get a five second count or a deflection,” Brock said. “It worked in one case, that’s really all you can do.”
The play worked to perfection. Berthiaume stole the inbounds pass directly under the basket, finished the layup, and drew contact for a foul, which narrowed Babson’s lead to 67-65 after making his free-throw.
“We were looking for a quick steal and if we couldn’t get that we had to foul,” Berthiaume said. “But our first option was to get a steal or a turnover.”
Wickey was fouled on the following possession. By cooly connecting on both free throws, he assured Babson’s win.
Both teams employed a full-court press in the first half. The first 15 minutes of the game included five ties and a consistent scoring effort by both squads.
As the half drew near, Palazini drilled a three-pointer to put the Beavers up 38-33 with 10 seconds left. The Pride inbounded the ball to Martin, who hustled his way the full length of the court to the basket, converted his layup and drew a foul. Martin hit his free throw, and the Pride went into halftime only down two, 38-36.
The second half became more of a struggle offensively than the first. Springfield backed down on their full-court press, which appeared effective in the first half, while Babson continued to knock down highly-contested shots. That combination proved to be deadly in the long run for the Pride.
“We just weren’t making stops when we needed to, and we hit a little bit of an offensive slump in the second half,” Berthiaume said.
The Beavers not only connected on their field goals, but foul shots as well. Brock was aware of the troubled foul shooting on the end of Babson, who have shot 66.7 percent as a team from the free-throw line on the season. However, they connected while shooting over their season average at 72.2 percent. Specifically, Russell Braithwaite had been singled out (56.8 percent), but would hit all but one of his free throws, going five for six.
“We had some guys that are lesser free-throw shooters, actually though Braithwaite shot very well from the free-throw line today, he was five for six. He’s one of the guys we’re looking to foul,” Brock said. “Figures lie and liars figure, you never know.”
The Pride traveled to Coast Guard on Wednesday to face the Bears at 5:30 p.m. Springfield swept the Bears for the regular season, beating them 58-45. They also defeated Coast Guard on Jan. 5 with a 62-50 victory.
Although nothing has been released, the men’s team could be down senior starting guard Jordan Rote for a prolonged period of time. He left Saturday’s game with an injury. The Pride will need to adjust to reign successful again.
“Now we’ve got to adjust a few things to compensate for an injury to a starter, so we need to pick it up,” Brock said.