Comeback Falls Just Short for Men's Basketball in Crosstown Rivalry Game

Comeback Falls Just Short for Men's Basketball in Crosstown Rivalry Game
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--The Western New England men’s basketball team fell just short of a thrilling comeback Tuesday night at the Alumni Healthful Living Center field house, falling to cross-town rival Springfield College, 73-71, in non-conference action.

The Golden Bears had the ball down by two points with a chance to tie or win on their final possession, but Springfield locked down on defense by blocking one shot and forcing a difficult last chance that came up empty for the home team.

Western New England is now 2-4 on the season, while the visiting Pride improve to 6-1. Springfield was coming off a 70-64 win against a nationally No. 6-ranked Amherst team that defeated WNE by 43 points two weeks ago.

Senior co-captain Damon Alston led the Golden Bears with 24 points to lead all scorers, while junior Dennis Rinaldi contributed eight points and seven rebounds, and junior Kevin Wilkes tallied eight points and eight rebounds.

Springfield was paced by guards Alex Berthiaume and Jordan Rote (4 steals), who had 19 and 17 points, respectively. Sean Martin dished a career-high nine assists against only two turnovers to go along with three steals. Robbie Burke also had 16 points.

The Golden Bears trailed by seven at halftime, 36-29, due to poor shooting (34.4%), and some very stingy defense by Springfield that forced 11 turnovers, leading to easy points. Alston led the way for the home team in the first half, scoring 12 points (including 2-for-2 from 3-point range) and grabbing three rebounds. Reigning Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie of the Week Zack Askew had seven points and five boards, too.

Springfield opened the second half on an 8-2 run, extending its lead to 13 before a Western New England timeout at the 17:44 mark. At this point it looked as if the Pride might begin to run away with the game as the lead soon grew to 15, but a couple 3-pointers by Alston kept the Golden Bears within striking distance.

Western New England continued to fight back, but the Pride were able to maintain a slim lead in the late stages of the game by continuously getting points in the paint--something the Golden Bears were unable to do. Springfield owned a 42-20 advantage in the paint and outscored Western New England, 23-8, on turnovers.

Springfield’s Pat Rossi (10 points, 5 rebounds) had a chance to clinch the game at the free throw line with 11 seconds left, but he missed both shots to set up a final possession for Western New England.

Springfield has now won five in a row over Western New England, and leads the overall series (which started in 1974-1975) 27-4.

Western New England is back in action Thursday night, when it hosts Roger Williams in CCC action.