The Springfield College women’s basketball game closed out the regular season with a 68-58 win over NEWMAC opponent Clark University. For the Pride, this was more than just a game. It was Senior Day, and would lead to a milestone for head coach Naomi Graves, as well as determine their seeding for the NEWMAC Tournament.
Seniors took the court of Blake Arena with their family members, as they were honored on Senior Day. The Pride honored four members of the women’s basketball program who have dedicated themselves over the last four seasons: Chelsea McAllister, Gracie Restituyo, Sam Spadaro, and Molly Altholz.
McAllister, a Recreation Management major from Baltimore, Vermont, has played in over 100 games during her career for the Pride, including starting in 56. Here, the guard has averaged 7.8 points, and 2.3 rebounds per game.
“The day has come and it’s crazy to think that it’s here,” said McAllister. “I wouldn’t want it with any other different group that I had. Every day they work their butts off, and I wouldn’t want them to do anything differently.”
Restituyo, a Sports Biology major from Barrington, Rhode Island, has been a starter for the last three years. At Springfield, the forward has averaged 8.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. This season alone, Restituyo has had 12 double doubles, 11 of which have come in the last 13 games, including today.
Spadaro and Altholz, both being student-coaches, were also recognized for their dedication to the program over the last four years.
For Graves, this win marked her 500th career victory, making her the 36th coach in the history of Division III women’s basketball to reach that accomplishment.
“I never thought I’d make it this far. Honestly when you start coaching, you don’t think you’re going to win 500. It’s a big number,” she said. “We’ve had great success at Springfield, because we’ve had great support. So it’s not my 500 at Springfield, but Springfield has been good to me, and I think it’s a tribute to our support in the administration and the type kids we get. They [the athletes] really got 500, I didn’t.”
Though, this moment was not born from a perfect game. It was a gritty game.
The Pride struggled offensively at the start of the game, falling behind Clark. But, the team was able to find its rhythm and take back the lead by the end of the first quarter, 19-18.
Springfield’s energy picked up dramatically in the second quarter, allowing them to stretch their lead while minimizing scoring opportunities for Clark. This is in great part thanks to the help of the reserves.
With about two and a half minutes remaining in the first half, freshman guard Grace Dzindolet picked off a pass, then saved the ball from going out of bounds with a one-handed pass across the court to McAllister.
About a minute later, junior Lauren Rudolph drained a 3-pointer from the left corner. McAllister followed that up by sinking a 3-pointer on the very next possession.
The Pride closed out the first half with a 35-25 lead, 14 of which had come from the bench alone. The team limited Clark to just seven points in the second quarter. This 10-point lead would prove to be vital in the second half.
Springfield continued to battle through a gritty game in the third quarter, with back and forth scoring from both teams. The Pride’s offense began to look more like their traditional style of play: pushing the ball up the court and driving in the paint.
Their system depends on energy, and once again, it was a reserve that helped spark the team.
Rudolph never stopped hustling. Late in the third quarter, when one of her passes got picked off at half court, she sprinted back in time to come up with a huge block. Blake Arena went wild. After, Restituyo took a charge in the paint to create another defensive stop. The Pride led 54-46 going into the fourth quarter.
“Grace [Dzindolet] plays with great energy, ‘Rudy’ [Lauren Rudolph] plays with great energy, I think that Grace and Rudy have done some really great things for us,” said Graves.
Starting point guard Alex Goslin set the tone from Springfield’s first possession, driving to the basket for a quick two points. About a minute later, she raced up the court to cut off a Clark player from driving to the basket off a turnover, causing her to miss the lay-up without making any contact to draw a foul.
Goslin would come up big for the Pride in the final quarter, scoring seven points, including a 3-pointer with a minute and a half remaining in the game. In the end, the Pride defeated Clark 68-58, Goslin leading the team with a total of 13 points, six assists, and five steals.
“Alex Goslin, she’s my hero,” said Graves. “I looked at her and told her ‘take the game over’ and she did. She did a great job.”
Restituyo also had a huge impact for the Pride. The senior finished with a total of 17 rebounds, 11 points, and three blocks.
With the win, the Pride finish the regular season with an overall record of 16-9, and a NEWMAC record of 12-4. This places Springfield in the third seed for playoffs, after beating MIT in the head-to-head tie breaker. The team will host Clark again on Tuesday, in the NEWMAC Tournament Quarterfinals.