By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College men’s basketball team was defeated by Emerson on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena by the score of 89-82.
The Pride brought the Blake Arena crowd to its feet early with its efficient deep shooting and stiff defense. They started the game 4-for-6 from the three-point line, while Emerson started 3-for-12 from the field. This led to a 20-6 Springfield lead with 12:15 left in the first half.
However, a change in defensive approach by Emerson slowed the Pride and allowed things to open up for the Lions.
“They pressed us,” said Springfield head coach Charlie Brock after the game. “They extended their defense and pressed us and we got a little bit ruffled, and stopped scoring and they got on a little bit of a run.”
Emerson dominated from the 12-minute mark through the end of the half with a 38-20 run, which provided them a 44-40 lead at half. In this stretch, they shot 15-for-21 from the field, which could largely be attributed to their tight defense creating easy opportunities.
“They ran us right down our throats and made layups,” said Brock.
Halftime briefly halted the Lions’ momentum, as the Pride was able to retake the lead early in the second half. Yet, by the time about six minutes had passed in the period, Emerson separated themselves again with a 58-49 lead before a Springfield timeout was called.
Lions guard Zach Waterhouse was the catalyst of Emerson’s early second half surge, as he scored 13 of the team’s first 17 points in the half, with all 13 of his points coming within a five-minute period. He not only provided energy for his team, but drained the energy of Blake Arena a couple of times in the game with athletic dunks.
Emerson had a lead of at least five points for the remainder of the game, and ended up on top by the score of 89-82. Waterhouse led the way for the Lions in the scoring column with 27 points after shooting 10-for-13 from the field and 4-for-4 from the foul line. Fellow guard Max Davis was 7-for-11 from the field with 20 points off the bench.
Despite the Pride’s 5-16 record, objectives are being completed with this team. With 10 of Springfield’s 15 players being in their first year of collegiate competition, growth and experience has been an emphasis for the team this year. Seemingly every matchup, a new player is having a career game. On Saturday, it was first-year Curtiss Blische.
Him and the rest of the Pride had a literal tall task with Emerson’s 6-foot-10 center Jarred Houston. He came into the game averaging 18.9 points and 14.9 rebounds per game, and also gathered 28 points and 21 rebounds against Springfield in their previous matchup this season.
However, on Saturday, Houston had a season-low five points, and only got off two shot attempts. Blische, along with fellow underclassmen Cameron Garber and Andrew Rocci, were manned up with him for a large portion of the game, and their terrific and physical defense stifled the giant. Blische also grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in this matchup.
“He’s just really improved, and he’s worked his butt off from day one,” said Brock regarding Blische. “And he’s improved to put himself in a position to (have a performance like this).”
The big men guarding Houston were not the only underclassmen to excel on Saturday. Sophomore Zeke Blauner and first-year Jacob Morales led the way for the Pride in the scoring column with 17 points each.
Springfield has two games remaining on their schedule, with their next game being at Clark University on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. Their final game will be the team’s Senior Day at Blake Arena on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. against Coast Guard.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics