Springfield, Mass. - January 28, 2017 - Led by a career-high 32 points from first-year Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.), the Springfield College men's basketball team held on a 73-70 victory over WPI in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play in Blake Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Pride picked up its second conference win of the week to improve to 10-9, 4-4, while the Engineers dropped to 13-6, 4-4 as Springfield swept the two regular season meetings between the two.
Ross totaled 32 points, 25 of which came in the first half, and added six boards and three steals to lead the Pride to the important conference win. Keegan McDonough (Bath, Maine) put together a gritty effort that featured 10 points and seven boards, while Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) chipped in nine points, six caroms, and three helpers.
For the Engineers, Chris Rodgers netted a team-best 23 points and hauled in nine boards, while Ian Converse totaled his fourth double double of the season with 16 points and 10 boards. Sean Doncaster nearly missed out on a triple double with nine points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.
Springfield finished the game shooting 26-for-64 (40.6%), but shot 56% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play, including 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. WPI held a 42-24 edge in points in the paints and scored 14 second-chance points after holding a slight 40-35 edge on the boards.
Back-to-back triples by Ross and Post gave Springfield a 10-9 edge, its first lead of the game at 17:45, as both teams come out incredibly efficient on the offensive side of the ball, combining to make 15 of their 22 shots.
Trey Witter (Unionville, Conn.) got free for a corner three to give the Pride a 25-19 edge at the 12:41 mark, and after Doncaster answered right back with a trifecta of his own, the hosts poured on an 11-0 run to open up a 36-22 cushion with 6:18 on the clock. McDonough and Ross combined for nine points in the burst, with a triple from Ross forcing the Engineers into a timeout.
Ross buried back-to-back shots from beyond the arc as the Pride's lead ballooned to 51-33 with under a minute to go and the hosts would head into the break with a 52-37 advantage.
Lou Doherty finished in traffic just over three minutes into the second half as part of a 9-1 WPI run as the visitors trimmed the lead to 53-46, forcing the Pride into a timeout. After Ross knocked down a three a the end of the shot clock to put Springfield back up by 11 with 14:20 to go, a Doncaster putback capped off an 11-5 push by the Engineers to make it a 63-58 game with 8:33 left.
A pair of free throws from Doncaster made it a one-possession game, 66-63, with under three to play, and despite Springfield pushing the lead back to five twice, WPI battled within 70-68 game after a Rodgers free throw with 15 seconds left. However, Ross knocked down two from the line with 12.3 seconds left to set his new career high and the Pride held on for the three-point win.
Springfield will remain to clash with MIT on Wednesday for a 7:00 pm tilt.