SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – January 3, 2008 – Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) poured in a career-best 23 points to lead the Springfield College men’s basketball team to a convincing 70-52 victory over Drew University in the opening round of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic on Thursday evening.
The win improved the Pride's record to 4-6, while the Rangers dropped to 4-5.
Springfield will take on Montclair State on Friday evening at 7:30 pm in the championship game of the Classic. Montclair State advanced to the finals earlier in the day after topping Roger Williams, 63-61. Friday will signal the 7th straight year that Springfield has reached the finals of this tournament. The last time SC failed to reach the finals was in 2001.
The Pride raced out to a quick 9-3 lead at the 16:58 mark after Crean hit a mid-range jumper. However, a 9-5 spurt by the Rangers over the next four minutes knotted the game at 14 with just over 12 minutes to play in the first stanza. The teams would go back-and-forth with the game being tied on four occasions throughout the rest of the half until the Pride closed out the period on a 6-0 run to take a 31-25 lead heading into the locker room.
Crean tallied 11 of his 23 points in the first half, going 4-of-4 from the field.
Springfield tacked on the first six points of the second half after back-to-back trifectas from Gregg Daly (Farmington, Conn.) and John Strawson (Torringon, Conn.) gave the Pride a 12 point advantage, 37-25. Drew got as close as nine after a Dave Pepperman layup made the score 39-30 with 15:59 left in regulation. From there, Springfield went on a 20-10 run, capped off by a Jamaal Gibbs (Norwalk, Conn.) jumper to take a commanding 19-point lead, 59-40. The Pride would lead by as many as 20 later in the game.
On his career-night, Crean finished with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with four boards. Daly chipped in with a 15-point, 12-rebound effort while Ryan Blackmon (Stamford, Conn.) also added 15 points. Springfield shot 48% from the field in the game and had just 10 turnovers. Junior guard Dan White (Troy, N.Y.) was particularly singled out by SC Head Coach Charlie Brock following the game.
Drew was paced by Chris Lopez’s 14 points and 10 rebounds, while teammates David Cramer (10 points) and Pepperman (14 points) each recorded double-figures in the scoring column.
Drew will square off on Friday afternoon at 3 pm in the men's consolation game against Roger Williams.