By Hayden Choate
With the game tied 50-50, first-year Angela Czeremcha pulled up, took a jump shot and gave the Springfield College women’s basketball team the lead over WPI with 4:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The Pride would hold on to win 61-56 in front of a huge Blake Arena crowd for senior night.
“It feels amazing because we have a short bench,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “Everybody played a role in this win from somebody who didn’t get the game who’s cheering their heart out to people who played two minutes to Sid who played almost the whole game so it felt amazing.”
“It was awesome,” graduate student Sidney Wentland said. “We haven’t had a lot of games of feeling like that — come-from-behind win. I think we proved a lot, played our hearts out, and left it all on the line.”
Wentland led the team with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists.
Springfield got out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but that was followed with WPI going on a 21-3 run to lead 21-10 in the second quarter.
During a timeout, Springfield took a breather and knew they had to get some defensive stops. Graves said the team was able to claw back in the game with that adjustment.
“It was really about possessions and defense and stops. There was some discussion in a timeout. We said ‘we’re gonna play some defense today right,’” Graves said.
Going into halftime the two teams found themselves tied, 31-31.
Although Springfield had not had the lead in the game, Graves just told her team it’s a new game and to just go out and play.
“I was really proud of them. We didn’t make a lot of adjustments at half,” Graves said. “I just said to them, ‘great for getting to a tie game, it’s zero zero, let’s go play.’ I was really happy with their performance. We made some discussions about offense and helped our defensive system.”
One of the biggest things that helped Springfield was the defensive play of Stephanie Lyons. Lyons had to guard WPI senior Alex Scariati and held her to just three second half points.
“Steph Lyons took a hundred screens,” Graves said. “She’s bloody today, she’s amazing on that defense but #30 we shut down in the second half.”
“We adjusted on their ball screen and Steph got up on 30 and did a great job,” Wentland said.
Just like Springfield put more pressure on one of their top shooters, WPI did the same — giving Wentland more opportunities for assists.
“I mean once I started heating up they started doubling and tripling me,” Wentland said “Then I remember Rachel cut to the lane, Angie cut to the line so the lane started to open up a bit.”
The Pride were down 47-44 to begin the fourth quarter before they eventually took the final lead of the game. Wentland and her team fed off the crowd’s energy and knew they had to pull out the victory.
“We gotta win this. We can’t lose. It’s not an option. It’s senior night,” Wentland said about what went through her mind in the fourth quarter.
Springfield now has a tough test at Smith on Feb. 9, who is undefeated at home this season. Graves knows her team will take the momentum from Saturday’s win over WPI into the coming week.
“I think this team is really special. I’ve said that since day one,” Graves said. “This win is amazing.”
Photo: Hayden Choate/The Student