By Gabby Guerard
With 18 seconds remaining in the game, seniors Ava Adamopoulos, Molly McCausland, Danielle Racette, and Lexi Windwer exited the court for the last time, embracing in an emotional group hug at the end of the bench. The senior class of 2016 took the court of Blake Arena for one final game, after suffering an upset loss to seventh seeded Clark University 65-54 in the NEWMAC tournament quarterfinals.
After defeating Clark twice during the regular season, Jan. 4 with a score of 72-63 and
Feb. 15 with a score of 57-48, both teams were exceptionally familiar with each other in Wednesday’s matchup. Given the immense amount of pressure and emotions that comes with playoffs, it proved to be too much for Springfield to overcome.
The Pride went into the game with the goal of winning each 10 minute quarter. By breaking down the game into pieces, this allowed players to focus on what was occurring in the moment, as opposed to being distracted by the exciting future possibilities of the tournament. However, Springfield came up short in this sense, by only outscoring Clark in two of the four quarters, a difference that would later determine its fate.
The Pride lost their momentum early in the first quarter, when Clark went on a seven point unanswered run, forcing Springfield to call a timeout. Springfield remained composed and focused, attempting to fight back. Sophomore Gracie Restituyo was off to a strong start in the paint both offensively and defensively, earning six points and three rebounds in the first quarter. But the aggressive and passionate playing style would later prove to be problematic for Restituyo, who fouled out in the final four minutes.
Defensively, the Pride came alive in the second quarter, limiting Clark to only nine points, which was about half the amount they scored in the first quarter. Springfield went on a six minute run where Clark was unable to score any points, due to tight defense and box outs. While the Pride fought back defensively, they continued to struggle offensively with a shooting percentage of 28.6, which was far less than the Cougars impressive 42.9 percent. Their efforts closed the scoring gap to a six point Clark lead, 28-22.
Both teams entered the second half with a sense of urgency, as the Pride managed to tie things up and even take a one point lead. However after just one possession, Clark responded and took the lead back, initiating a back-and-forth rally of basket after basket between the two teams. Springfield struggled with turnovers in the third quarter, doubling the seven from the first half, and increasing their running total to 14.
Entering the fourth quarter down 43-40, the Pride came up short, despite their strong efforts in the prior two quarters. Clark went on a five point unanswered run early on, and continued to add to it utilizing a quick press breaker. Fighting through the final minutes of the game, the Pride forced the Cougars to earn their win at the line.
Despite the unfavorable outcome, the seniors each made their mark in their final career games. Adamopoulos lead the team in scoring, producing 19 points. McCausland led the team in rebounds, posting a career-high of 10. Racette lead the team in assists, with a total of four. Windwer lead the team from beyond the arc, sinking the only three pointers of the night. Given their enormous contributions this season, these four players will undoubtedly be missed next year.