The Springfield College men's basketball team closed out the game on a 12-2 run to pull away from Western New England for a 95-84 victory in both teams season opener on Thursday night.
The Pride, which was ranked No. 7 in the D3hoops.com National Poll, hit the courts for the first time since reaching the NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals a season ago.
Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) led the way for the Pride with 35 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists, while Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) poured in a career-high 24 points in 26 minutes of action, connecting on 8-of-11 shots, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. First-year Daryl Costa (Providence, R.I.) provided eight points off the bench and Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) recorded seven points, seven caroms, and three blocks. Springfield shot 30-for-62 for the game (48%) and buried 14-of-29 from deep. The Pride also knocked down 21-of-28 from the charity stripe and committed just seven turnovers.
Mikey Pettway led the Golden Bears with 28 points, while Mike McGuire netted 16 points, Alex Sikorski tallied 15, and Zachary Tavitian totaled 12.
After Earle's second three-pointer of the game lifted Springfield to an early 14-5 lead and forced the hosts into a timeout at the 16:42 mark of the first half, the Golden Bears would hold the Pride off the scoreboard for over four minutes to pull within 17-16. Springfield's lead would balloon to 36-27 when Collin Lindsay (East Longmeadow, Mass.) cashed in on a triple from the left wing with 4:28 remaining, only to have the hosts close out the stanza on a 19-7 surge to go into the half with a a 44-43 lead.
Western New England extended its advantage to 52-45 just over three minutes into the second period following a Pettway layup that forced a Springfield timeout. The Golden Bears eventually stretched their lead to 59-50 on a pair of Pettway free throws at 15:02, before an 11-0 Springfield run, fueled by nine points and four defensive rebounds from Ross, allowed the Pride to pull ahead 61-59 with 12:24 remaining.
The visitors rode their momentum to a 66-61 lead following a Trey Witter (Unionville, Conn.) corner triple at the 11:25 mark, but Western New England surged back ahead, 67-66, with a 6-0 run that culminated in a Pettway jumper with 10 minutes to play. With 7:05 on the clock, Ross was whistled for his fourth foul and headed to the bench, but Springfield was able to earn an 88-84 lead over the next five minutes as both Costa and Post drilled critical three-pointers. Clinging to a four-point advantage with under two minutes to play, Earle sealed the win when he canned an off-balance three as the shot clock expired. Ross tacked on four points down the stretch to complete the scoring as he reached the 35-point mark for the fifth time in his career.
Springfield, which starts the season off with six-straight games away from Blake Arena, will next travel to face Keene State on Tuesday, November 13. The Owls were also receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Preseason National Poll.