Springfield, Mass. -- February 16, 2011 -- In their final home game of their careers, seniors Matt Cavalieri and Billy Harkins shined as the Springfield College men's basketball team knocked off No. 10 WPI, 72-60, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash on Wednesday evening in Blake Arena.
The win raises Springfield's record to 15-9 overall, 7-4 in the NEWMAC. WPI falls to 20-4 overall, 10-1 in the conference. WPI's winning streak of 13 is halted. WPI was also trying to become the first NEWMAC men's basketball team to go 11-0 to start the conference portion of its season.
The win for Springfield was important in that it allowed SC to slip into second place in league play all alone. Earlier this evening, MIT lost to Wheaton, 80-72. Springfield and MIT had been tied for second when the evening began.
Cavalieri, a senior forward from West Warwick, R.I., scored 21 points to lead all scorers. He also had a game-high 11 rebounds, and added two assists and two steals. He was 8-of-13 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range.
Harkins, a senior guard from Bellmore, N.Y., had an outstanding game. Not only did he score 18 points, he also came up with four rebounds, a game-high seven assists, and a game-high four steals. He was 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and 9-of-10 from the line. Harkins also faced extra pressure tonight in that back-up point guard Matt Pascuzzo (Wallingford, Conn.) was out of the line-up because of a hand injury. Pascuzzo is expected to return for Saturday's game.
For the Engineers, three players scored in double figures. They were senior guard Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, Conn.) with 14 points (plus seven rebounds), senior forward Ben Etten (Hollis, N.H.) with 13 points (plus seven rebounds and three assists), and junior forward Jerome Stewart (Bloomfield, Conn.) with 11 points (and five rebounds). Junior center Matt Carr (Somersworth, N.H.) finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
After both teams came out of the gate shooting the ball well, WPI was able to build its largest lead of the opening half after Robinson converted in the paint with 11:42 on the clock to make it a 16-12 ball game. Over the next 6:59, the Pride went on an 11-2 run to open up a 23-18 lead after sophomore forward Pat Rossi (Rock Tavern, N.Y.) hit a free throw. A Stewart lay up cut it to three, only to have Springfield's lead grow to eight after Harkins cashed in on a three from the left wing to make it 28-20. Cavalieri converted on a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left in the half to give Springfield a 31-24 lead going into the locker room.
Springfield got to the line early and often in the first half as it shot 12-of-19 from the charity stripe, compared to just a 3 for 5 performance for WPI. The Pride was also able turn 10 WPI turnovers into 12 points.
In the second half, SC started off by scoring 10 of the first 12 points, lengthening its lead to 15 at 41-26 with 14:32 left. Shortly thereafter, WPI started to press all over the court, and managed to cut the lead to eight at 48-40 with 10:15 to go.
But an 18-second sequence then allowed SC to regain control -- as Cavalieri hit a 3-pointer (making it 51-40), followed soon thereafter by a 3-pointer by Harkins from the dead left-hand corner. With 9:45 left, it was now 54-40.
WPI would cut it to seven at 61-54 with 3:56 left on a 3-pointer by senior guard Kyle Nadeau (Webster, Mass.), but that was as close as the Engineers would come. SC rode the free throw line to victory the rest of the way.
After all was said and done, each team rebounded the ball 41 times. WPI turned it over 15 times, while forcing 13. Springfield shot .412 from the floor (21-of-51), while WPI shot just .328 (21-of-64). The Engineers shot just .276 from 3-point range (8-of-29), while the Pride shot .500 (5-of-10). Another main difference came from the free throw line as SC shot .714 (25-of-35), while WPI shot .667 (10-of-15).
Springfield wraps up the regular season on Saturday afternoon when it travels to take on MIT at 3:00 pm.