Springfield, Mass. - January 3, 2015 - The Springfield College men's basketball team fell victim to a last-second loss for the second-straight game as Brandeis escaped with a 72-69 win in the consolation game of the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic on Sunday in Blake Arena.
With the loss, Springfield falls to 3-7 overall, while the Judges improve to 6-5 on the year. On the evening, the Pride were 22-for-48 (45.8%) from the field, including shooting 11-for-21 (52.4%) in the first half, while Brandeis finished shooting 27-for-57 (47.4%) in the win.
For the Pride, graduate student Josh Altman (Rockport, Mass.) continued his strong play over the weekend, as he registered a game-high 21 points including three three-pointers, while senior Josh Downes (East Sandwich, Mass.) followed with 12 points. Senior forward Larry Piretra (Oakland, N.J.) grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Pride held a 33-26 advantage on the glass in the loss.
Brandeis was led by 38 combined points from Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass.) and Jordan Cooper (Weston, Fla.), scoring 20 and 18, respectively, while junior John Powell (Ashland, Mass.) registered a team-best eight rebounds.
Springfield jumped out to an early 11-8 lead over the Judges, as Altman scored the first seven points for the Pride followed by free-throws from Downes and sophomore Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.).
Brandeis would narrow the gap to one with just under 10 minutes to go in the opening half following a three-pointer by Ian Roach (Brooklyn, N.Y.), but on the ensuing possession, senior Alex Garstka (Westfield, Mass.) would nail a triple of his own to make it 19-15 midway through the stanza.
After the Judges evened the game at 21 following a conventional three-point play by Powell, Springfield would open a 29-25 lead with 4:07 remaining in the first half after a lay-in from Piretra and a pair of free-throws from Garstka.
With under two minutes to play in the half, Altman would cash in on a jumper from the wing, before sophomore Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) drilled a three-pointer to give the Pride a 34-28 advantage. Altman would then convert a triple of his own to extend the Pride's lead to nine, before Vilmont scored the last five points of the half to make it 37-33, Springfield, at the break.
Altman opened the second half with a deep triple to make it 40-33, before the graduate student found Piretra on the wing for a three of his own to give the Pride an early eight-point advantage.
Springfield would retain its eight-point advantage until midway through the second half when Carlin Haymon (Boston, Mass.) converted a three-point play to make it 56-51 with 10:29 on the clock.
Brandeis would climb all the way back to within a pair following a basket from Vilmont, before a pair of free-throws from Cooper evened the score at 60 with 5:54 to go. Following a basket from Altman, Vilmont converted another three-point play to give the Judges a one-point advantage with 4:42 to play.
The two sides would trade leads until the 2:50 mark, when Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio) picked up a basket that gave the Judges a three-point advantage, but it was matched by McNulty, who hit a crucial three-pointer from the wing to make it 69-69 with two minutes remaining.
With the last possession, Cooper took a pass on the wing and nailed the buzzer-beating triple to seal the 72-69 victory for the Judges.
Next, Springfield will host WPI on Wednesday, January 6 at 5 p.m. in Blake Arena.
2016 Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic All-Tournamen Team
Robinson Vilmont - Brandeis
Josh Altman - Springfield College
Raheem Anderson - Husson
Trevon Butler - Husson
Mike Boornazian - Bates
Shawn Strickland - Bates - MVP