By Luke Whitehouse
As Kayla Madden went up to grab the rebound she noticed Stefany Padula open for a shot, and as she came down with the rebound she found Padula. This might seem like any other play, but Padula’s jump shot cut Middlebury’s once nine point lead down to one. On the very next possession a three-pointer by Rachel Vinton gave Springfield the lead, and they did not look back, as they defeated Middlebury 65-53.
Although it ended as a double digit win by the Pride, it was far from smooth sailing.
After the first quarter, the Pride led 9-7, in a relatively defensive battle. That defensive prowess, by both teams, continued into the second quarter as both teams found it hard to put the ball in the basket.
“We were rushing [shots],” said Springfield head coach Naomi Graves. “And if you watched the game, we were just flat. [Middlebury] played with a little more fire.”
Despite Springfield’s lack of offense, their defense kept them afloat as Middlebury clung to a 20-19 halftime lead.
Things would change in the third quarter.
As Graves alluded to, Middlebury showed infectious energy, and that energy spilled onto the court.
The Panthers outscored the Pride 21-15 in the third, led by Alexa Mustafaj who scored nearly half of their points that quarter with 10.
After the quarter, Middlebury led 41-34, and looked like they were in complete control of the game.
Jalen Daubon helped keep the Pride afloat, scoring eight of her 18 in the third quarter.
“We had to adjust to their offense,” said Jaelen Daubon. “They had some really good shooters on their team.”
If Springfield wanted to win this game, they had one quarter to do so. But as it goes, the great teams overcome no matter the situation.
And Springfield was ready.
Springfield and Middlebury started the fourth trading buckets, but about midway through, that would change.
A minute into the quarter, the script was flipped as the Pride would score 11 unanswered points- taking a four point lead in the final six minutes.
Although they now led, the Pride continued to pour it on: scoring 15 points in the final five minutes and finishing with 31 fourth quarter points.
The aforementioned Padula and season scoring leader Sam Hourihan added 10 points each in the fourth.
One of the main reasons the Pride were able to overcome the deficit was their three point shooting, something that plagued them in the first half.
They caught fire in the fourth, going 4-7 from downtown, compared to 3-18 in the first three.
“We had to come out with a lot of fire,” said Daubon, who led the Pride in points. “When we started making our shots, it just gave us an extra boost and we knew we could finish it.”
Daubon finished with 18 points, while Hourihan and Padula both finished in double figures; scoring 16 and 10 respectively.
Rachel Vinton also made her presence felt, adding nine points, and led the Pride with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Springfield improves to 6-1 and will now turn their focus to Tuesday’s game, as they will travel to Worcester to take on the 4-4 Worcester State Lancers.
Photo Courtesy Danielle Schmeling