SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University men's basketball team fell victim to a strong second half performance by crosstown rival Springfield College as the Pride defeated the Golden Bears 90-80 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams at Blake Arena.
Western New England's offense featured four double-figure scorers, including senior guard Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), who produced a team-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range.
Senior guard Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.) and junior guard Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) recorded 15 points each, while junior forward Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn.) finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Springfield senior guard Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) produced a game-high 34 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals to lead the way for the Pride. Senior forward Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) registered a double-double with 24 points and 11 boards.
Western New England got off to a strong start, as the Pride missed their first six shots, allowing the Golden Bears to build a 15-6 lead 6:21 into the contest. A 15-7 Springfield run over the next four minutes brought the home team back to within one (22-21) midway through the half, however.
The Golden Bears responded with a 10-0 spurt, fueled by a pair of three-pointers by Reilly, to open up their largest lead of the night (32-21) with 7:03 left in the half.
Post and Ross carried the Pride offensively late in the half as Springfield closed the gap to 44-42 at the break.
Early in the second half, Springfield's Jake Jacobson (Branford, Conn.) knocked down a triple to give the Pride their first lead of the night (45-44).The two teams went back and forth over the next seven minutes with Sprinfield taking the lead for good (60-57) on a Post three-pointer with 11:54 to play.
Western New England was able to stay within striking distance until the Pride gained some separation with an 8-0 run that made it 71-63 with seven minutes remaining. The Golden Bears made one final push, getting to within 72-71 after McGuire knocked down a three-pointer 90 seconds later, but Post responded with a triple of his own as the Pride eventually extended their lead back to six (77-71) with 4:23 on the clock. Springfield held on down the stretch as Western New England was unable to overcome its deficit.
• Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field, as Western New England connected at a 53.4 percent clip.
• The Golden Bears held a 29-28 rebounding edge and a 34-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Western New England (0-1) opens its home slate against Becker on Tuesday night. Springfield (1-0) hosts Keene State on Tuesday.