By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College women’s basketball team defeated Vassar College on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena by the score of 69-61.
The Pride established control of the game early. They forced a turnover in Vassar’s first possession, and forced three in the first four minutes of the game. Meanwhile, Springfield was efficient offensively, as they were able to score 11 points in those first four minutes, all while not allowing a single point to Vassar.
However, the tides turned quickly, as Vassar was able to go on their own 11-0 run, which gave the game a tie score with three minutes left in the first quarter. The Pride was able to regroup at the end of the quarter, as they closed it out with a 6-0 run to give them a six-point lead.
To open up the second quarter, Springfield extended their run to 12-0 to make it 23-11 in their favor. But, to match the theme of the game, Vassar refused to drift away. The Brewers answered back with an 11-3 run to make it 26-22, Springfield. The Pride ended up on top through the first half with the score at 31-25.
The game remained even through the first two and half minutes of the second half, and after Vassar’s sixth made three-pointer of the game, Springfield head coach Naomi Graves called a timeout. After the timeout, Springfield went on a 13-3 run to give themselves a 15-point lead with 2:08 left in the quarter.
Yet, Vassar found a way to get hot to close out the quarter. In the final two minutes of the period, the Brewers went 4-for-4 from behind the three-point line, and finished it on a 14-5 run to keep them within six points of the Pride.
But, the Pride was able to make a vital defensive stand for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. With 3:54 left in the game, Vassar had only scored one point in the final period. They were 0-for-3 from the field with three turnovers in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. A large part of this was the effectiveness of Springfield’s 1-2-2 zone defense, which was applied in the later part of the game.
“We saved that for the second half,” said Graves. “We go to that zone a lot when we can’t close out enough, and so I think that was a game changer.”
Vassar’s offense did in fact run through the three-point shot. Overall, 14 of the Brewers’ 19 made field goals were three-pointers, and they attempted 43 shots from beyond the perimeter in total. So, having three defensive players close to the three-point line was a good way to neutralize Vassar’s offense.
While the Brewers scored only one point in the first 6:06 of the fourth quarter, the Pride scored 10 points and extended their lead to 15, which seemed to put the game out of reach. They ended up closing the game out with a 69-61 victory.
One of the separators for Springfield was their ability to rebound the ball at an extremely high rate. They outrebounded Vassar 53-31, and had 14 offensive rebounds to the Brewers’ six. Three Pride players had eight or more rebounds, and two of them had double-doubles.
“I think rebounds are always important,” said Graves. “But having another opportunity to look at the basket offensively is a key to our system, so yeah, it’s huge. If we didn’t do that, we probably wouldn’t have won the game.”
The team’s top rebounders were also their top scorers. Sidney Wentland scored 11 points along with her 11 rebounds, and Grace Dzindolet scored a season-high 15 points to go with her eight rebounds.
Topping both categories was Sam Hourihan, who had 20 points, including nine in the final quarter, and also 13 rebounds, including nine in the game’s first fifteen minutes.
Springfield has one more game before Thanksgiving break, which will be at Williams College at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. They will be back at Blake Arena on Dec. 7 against Worcester State.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics