Assistant Sports Editor
As Springfield College struggled to do anything against Wheaton College, they turned to a new, yet familiar face.
While Josh Altman and Sean Martin were unable to produce any offense, going a combined 2-for-8 through the game’s first 13 minutes, Nick Sienkiewicz answered the call.
Draining consecutive jumpers, the second coming from beyond the arc, Sienkiewicz sparked a 13-0 Pride run, leading Springfield to a 96-64 score.
“I knew it was going to be a battle since we were coming off two big wins,” said Sienkiewicz. “Figured some of the young guys would come out a little flat, which happens, it’s a part of the game. I knew I just needed to get us going a little early.”
The senior finished the game with 12 points, 10 of them coming in the first half, but none bigger than his jumpers with the game tied at 14. After a Martin layup and a three-point play by Alex Gartska brought the game even, Sienkiewicz pushed the Pride ahead.
Wheaton, using a 2-3 zone early in the game, kept Springfield from developing any offense. The Pride were unable to drive and were forced to take contested jumpers, late in the shot clock.
“I think sometimes we get a little excited and we don’t run through our offense real well,” said Tim Swenson, who tallied 11 points and seven boards for Springfield. “We want to do a little more than what we’re capable of. We had to take a step back and play our game and I think we were able to control the tempo of the game, and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Altman, a 34% shooter from downtown, missed his first three attempts from beyond the arc, before nailing back-to-back threes to push the lead to 34-22 with under four minutes to play.
“We just picked up our intensity,” Sienkiewicz said.
“We knew if we ran our offense, we were going to get shot and they were going to fall, we just needed to pick it up defensively.”
As the Pride’s stars started to ignite, so too did the Springfield bench. Garstka continued to blow past defenders in the second half, finishing with 21 points, including a deep contested three in the games finals minutes.
With the game in control, Springfield’s Steven Young punctuated the victory by stealing a Wheaton pass and finishing with a 360 dunk.
“(The bench play) was huge,” Head Coach Charlie Brock said. “I really like that. Alex got significant minutes and took advantage of them. We need (the bench) to get seasoned.”
Springfield swept their four game homestand, claiming big victories over WPI and MIT, avenging 20-point losses earlier in the season against teams sitting atop the NEWMAC standings. But as the Pride left the friendly confines of Blake Arena, they were greeted with a trip to Babson, the top team in the NEWMAC.
The Pride’s winning streak would come to a halting stop against the Beavers, falling 76-57, while getting outscored in the second half 43-31.
Altman, the teams second leading scorer, managed six points on 2-of-9 shooting, while Martin poured in 14 but hit only five of his 13 shots.
Springfield visits Emerson on Valentines day, before facing Clark on the 18th in the final home game of the season for the Pride.