Bridgewater, Mass. - November 19, 2016 - The Springfield College men's basketball team let a 16-point second-half lead slip away as it was defeated by by host Bridgewater State, 79-74, on Saturday afternoon in the 2016 Cave Classic Tip-Off.
The loss is the first of the season for Springfield as it drops to 2-1, while the Bears improved to 2-1.
First-year Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) paced the Pride with 16 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and five assists and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Junior forward Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) scored a team best 18 points, while junior guard Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) and first-year Trey Witter (Unionville, Conn.) added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Senior guard Fawaz Mass (Taunton, Mass.) earned Most Valuable Player honors to lead the hosts to victory. Mass tallied 15 points, including ten during a crucial stretch of the second half, to go along with four rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Senior guard Keyon Armstrong (Brockton, Mass.) led all players with a game-high 20 points, as he was 4-for-6 from behind the arc and pulled down five rebounds.
Springfield opened up a 20-10 lead midway through the first half when McNulty drilled a triple from the left wing, only to have the Bears respond with a 17-4 run to earn a 27-24 cushion following a Mass lay in. Anthony Reynolds (Springfield, Mass.) cashed in on an elbow jumper the next time down the for the Pride to kickstart a 17-6 surge to earn a 43-33 advantage at the half.
After Eckles buried a trifecta just over a minute into the second half to push Springfield's lead to 49-33, the Bears chipped away outscoring the Pride 25-11 over the next nine minutes.
Mass scored ten of his 15 points during that nine-minute stretch while the Bears also received a trio of three-pointers from junior guard Rocky DeAndrade (Mansfield, Mass.), Armstrong and junior forward Joseph Carty (Natick, Mass.). Carty's trifecta pulled the Bears to within two (60-58) with 9:49 left to play.
Later in the period, senior forward Greg Romanko (Mansfield, Mass.) drained a three-pointer to tie the score at 65-65 with 5:47 remaining. Witter reclaimed the lead for the Pride with a trifecta, but Romanko responded with an off-balance driving layup and got fouled to make it a one-point game, 68-67.
Springfield would lead for the final time when Ross answered with a pair of free throws to put the visitors back on top, 70-69, with 3:41 remaining.
DeAndrade knocked down a three-pointer to give the Bears a 72-70 advantage with 3:25 remaining. After a stop, DeAndrade made two free throws to extend the lead to 74-70. Out of a timeout, Ross made a layup, got fouled and hit the free throw to make it a one-point game, 74-73, with 1:36 on the clock.
Mass made 1 of 2 free throws at the other end of the floor to give the Bears a 75-73 lead. Following a stop and a timeout, Carty grabbed a big offensive board, was fouled and made two free throws to make it 77-73 with just 24 seconds showing on the scoreboard.
After Ross made 1 of 2 free throws for the Pride, Armstrong buried two shots at the charity stripe to put the finishing touches on the 79-74 victory.
DeAndrade also earned All-Tournament honors and scored 14 in the win over Springfield to go along with three assists, two rebounds and a pair of steals. Carty chipped in with 13 points, eight boards, three assists and a steal.
The Bears shot 50% (25-50) from the floor, 47% (8-17) from behind the arc and 70% (21-30) at the free throw line.
Springfield struggled from the floor in the second half connecting on just 7 of 30 (23%) field goal attempts. The Pride shot 34% (21-62) for the game including 9-for-22 (41%) from three-point range. Springfield did well from the line making 23 of 27 attempts (85%).
The Pride will continue its road swing on Tuesday evening when it heads north to square off with Keene State at 7 pm.