Springfield, Mass. - February 6, 2014 - The Springfield College men's basketball team rallied to a critical 59-51 New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) win over visiting MIT on Thursday in Blake Arena.
Alex Garstka (Westfield, Mass.) paced the Pride as the game's leading scorer with 17 points off the bench. Nick Sienkiewicz (Cranston, R.I) chipped in 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting. The junior also added four assists and three rebounds. Larry Piretra (Oakland, N.J.) had a big game with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) tallied four points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals for an all around day.
MIT was led by Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) with a team-high 14 points. Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) had 12 points and seven boards while Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) chipped in 12 points.
Springfield improves to 15-5 overall with the win and 6-3 in the NEWMAC while MIT drops to 14-6 on the season and 5-4 in conference play. MIT held a one-point lead at halftime, but the Pride rallied in the second, leading by as much as 14 points.
For the first five minutes of the game, the teams exchanged baskets before Robbie Burke (Cheshire, Mass.) came up with a big steal and Sienkiewicz finished on the other end with a three-pointer from the corner to take a 9-7 lead with 14:36 on the clock. Sienkiewicz picked up an assist two possessions later, feeding Piretra in the paint to go up 13-9 with 12:58 left in the first.
With 8:38 left in the half and the score knotted up at 15 apiece, Burke gave a nice feed to Garstka, who buried a three-pointer for an 18-15 lead. MIT answered back, scoring on a basket from Butala and then a three-pointer from Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) to take a 20-18 lead with 5:45 on the clock. Springfield tied it up on a basket by Quinn McKenna (Litchfield, Conn.) in the paint.
On the other end, Butala knocked down a jumper to put the Engineers up by two, but another three by Garstka with 2:30 left in the half gave Springfield a 28-24 lead. MIT answered with a three by Dakota Pierce just 27 seconds later to make it a one point game.
Just before the half, Butala knocked down a baseline jumper to give the Engineers a 29-28 lead before heading to the locker room.
Springfield opened up the second half with steals on back-to-back possessions. Martin stole the ball at half court, laying it in on the other end just 1:19 in and on the next possession, the senior picked up another steal and Sienkiewicz dropped it in off an offensive rebound to go ahead 32-29 just 1:43 into the half.
Garstka gave the Pride a 10-point lead with 13:51 on the clock on a nice floater in the paint. Piretra hit a baseline jumper on the next possession to go up 46-34.
MIT cut the lead down to nine points as Butala hit a three-pointer to make it a 52-43 game with 8:28 left.
Sienkiewicz drained a wide open three-pointer to bring the fans to their feet, giving the Pride a 57-43 lead, their biggest of the game with 6:36 to play. Springfield held on down the stretch, as MIT scored a few late baskets. Burke had a big basket in the paint with 1:42 on the clock to give Springfield a 59-47 lead and that would be all the Pride needed.
MIT got the best of the Pride earlier in the season as Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) was huge in the 55-51 win, scoring 27 points. In Thursday's match up, Springfield's defense was tremendous, holding Pedley scoreless.
Springfield shot 23-of-53 (43.4%) from the field while MIT shot 20-of-44 (45.5%). The Pride shot 5-of-15 (33.3%) from three while MIT was 4-of-14 (28.6%). There weren't many fouls in the game, but Springfield made good use of the ones it had, going 8-for-10 from the line. MIT shot 7-of-12 (58.3%) from the charity stripe.
Up next, Springfield will travel to Wheaton for a 1:00 p.m. start on Saturday. MIT will head to Coast Guard on Saturday at 1:00.