By Luke Whitehouse
All Springfield needed was to sink two foul shots and get a stop and the win was theirs.
Throughout the night it had been a back-and-forth battle as the Pride would take a big lead and then the Golden Bears would fight back and make it close again. So, of course, with 18 seconds left it was down to foul shots. Sam Hourihan, who was the Pride’s leading scorer, stepped up to the line with a four point lead.
Swish! Swish! She knocked down both.
Back-to-back free throws were made, and now they had to stop the Bears from getting a good look. Western New England guard Emma Kahn missed a three and it was corralled by Springfield guard Rachel Vinton, her 10th of the game, forcing the Golden Bears into a must-foul situation.
The Pride ended up pulling away with a 56-48 hard-fought win.
Springfield began last season with a huge win over Western New England, setting them up for a historic run to the NCAA tournament. And they looked to replicate that as they hosted the Golden Bears Tuesday night in Blake arena.
The Pride started fast as Angie Czeremcha and Sam Hourihan combined to put the Golden Bears in a 10-0 hole early.
But they would fight back, as they held the Pride to zero points over the final 6 minutes and ended the quarter down just one.
The second quarter started with the Pride and Golden Bears trading shots every possession. Springfield finally pulled away, as they went on a 7-0 run late in the quarter which allowed them to go into the half with a comfortable 23-17 lead.
The Pride knew they had to step it up on offense if they were going to win this game.
“Get the ball inside..it’s pretty simple,” Springfield head coach Naomi Graves said. “We need to start scoring inside-out, not outside-in… I wanted them to attack.”
The Pride did just that as they outscored their opponent once again in the third quarter and extended their lead to eight.
Going into the 4th quarter, the offensive adjustments by the Pride continued, leading to multiple double digit leads throughout the quarter.
But the Golden Bears just wouldn’t go away.
With under two minutes left in the game, down 51-41, they proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, shrinking Springfields lead to three.
Just as it had all game, the Western New England offense picked up when it needed to and the defense fed off that.
With 27 seconds left the Golden Bears took a time out, and Graves took this time to tell her team two things: “Capitalize on offense, and stop the three point shots.”
In the end, the Pride scored the final five points, and pulled off the huge win.
Hourihan led the team with 18 points, while Jaélen Daubon added 14 points. Vinton put together a solid all-around performance, chipping in nine points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Pride start the season 1-0 and look to add another win Friday as they hit the road to face Amherst College at 7 p.m.
Photo Courtesy of Danielle Schmelling