Springfield, Mass. - January 27, 2010 - Billy Harkins banked in an 18-footer as the shot clock expired with nine seconds remaining to lift the Springfield College men's basketball team to a thrilling 64-61 win over Clark in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Wednesday evening.
With the victory, Springfield improves to 8-10 overall, 4-2 in league action, while the Cougars drop to 11-8 overall, 2-4 in the conference. The Pride is now in second place all by itself in the league behind 5-1 MIT.
Springfield had led by as many as 15 points in the first half (30-15 with 5:50 to go), but Clark cut it to eight at the intermission (40-32), and then kept chipping away in the second half until it took the lead at 61-60 with 3:05 left on a lay-up by sophomore forward Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.). Springfield reclaimed the lead with 1:50 to go when Vayda fouled SC sophomore center Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, R.I.), who calmly sank both free throws.
The score stayed at 62-61 when Springfield had possession, and called timeout with 22 seconds left overall and 13 seconds left on the shot clock. SC tried to work a play, but the lane was clogged. With time running out, Harkins, a junior point guard from Bellmore, N.Y., found the ball in his hands. He took one step inside the 3-point line from the left-hand side, and banked home what proved to be the clinching hoop.
Clark inbounded the ball, advancing it just beyond halfcourt, and then called timeout with 4.2 seconds left. When the ball was finally put in play, Cougars' senior forward Jack Minister (Manchester, England) attempted a 3-pointer, but the shot didn't threaten the rim -- and Springfield escaped with the win.
Springfield was led by three players in double figures. They were junior forward Matt Cavalieri (West Warwick, R.I.) with 17 points (and 11 rebounds), Coburn with 10 points (and seven rebounds and two blocks), and senior forward Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) with 10 points (and five rebounds and five assists). Junior guard Darvis Rankins (Boston, Mass.) finished with nine points. Harkins, who celebrated his birthday just two days ago, had eight points and a team-season-high eight assists for an individual.
For Clark, two players scored in double figures. They were senior forward Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.) with a game-high 18 points (and five rebounds), and Vayda with 16 points (and six rebounds and three assists). Freshman guard Tucker Esborn (Branford, Conn.) had seven points, two assists, and a block.
Springfield shot .463 for the game from the floor, while Clark shot .431. Each team pulled down 31 rebounds. Clark had 19 turnovers to SC's 17.
The Pride will return to action on Saturday afternoon when it travels to take on rival Wheaton at 1:00 pm in a key conference matchup.