Radnor, Pa. - March 2, 2018 - The Springfield College men's basketball team held on for an 88-86 victory over Albright in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Championship on Friday evening in Nerney Field House on the campus of Cabrini University.
The win on the national stage marked Springfield's first win in the NCAA Tournament since 2005. The Pride improved to 19-8 with the victory and will play host Cabrini at 7 pm on Saturday with a bid to the Sweet 16 on the line. Albright's season comes to a close with a 20-7 record.
Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) totaled 24 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists as he played all 40 minutes, while Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) recorded 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) finished the evening with 18 points and Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) produced 16 points, seven boards, and six assists. Springfield finished the game shooting 31-for-55 (56%), highlighted by a 17-for-27 (63%) in the second half. Totaling 21 assists on the night, the Pride was sensational from beyond the arc, connecting on 13-of-23, nailing 8-of-11 in the second half. After holding Albright to just 26 points in the second half, Albright erupted for 60 points in the second half.
For the Lions, which shot 35-for-69 (51%), Fred Rowles netted 24 points, Brandon Lindsay totaled 17, and DeJuan Smith scored 16. The Lions turned 15 Springfield turnovers into 20 points and scored 48 points in the paint.
Coming out of the game's first media timeout, Post cashed in for a triple from the right wing to give the Pride a 7-2 advantage. Springfield pushed its lead to 18-8 when Post pinned a block off the backboard and raced out in transition to hammer home a dunk with 10:14 on the clock. The Lions pulled with 25-20 when Samuel Majekodunmi finished a fast break bucket at 4:46, but the Pride closed strong, as triples from Post and Earle fueled an offensive surge that gave the Pride a 35-26 edge at the break. In the opening 20 minutes of action, Springfield shot 50% from the field and held a 22-13 edge on the glass.
The Lions wasted little time getting back into the game, scoring the first five points of the second half before McNulty knocked down a three-pointer to push the Pride's advantage back to 38-31 at 18:44. A fastbreak dunk from Smith with 14:18 remaining made it a 44-41 game, only to have Ross answer with Springfield's next 10 points as the teams traded baskets to keep it a three-point game, 59-56, with 9:54 to play. However, Springfield then manufactured a 13-4 run, capped off by a four-point play by Earle at the 6:36 mark as the Pride's lead ballooned to 12 at 72-62. Over the next 2:43, the Lions mounted a remarkable rally, rattling off a 10-1 run two pull within a basket, but McNulty drilled two critical three-pointers on Springfield's next two possessions to calm the Albright surge.
After two freebies from Ross pushed Springfield's cushion back to seven at 85-78, the Lions scored six of the next eight points as the Pride's lead shrunk to 87-86. Out of a Springfield timeout, the Pride were unable to convert on the offensive end and Albright had a great look at a triple from the left wing, but it careened off the front rim. Post hauled in the rebound and made one of two free throws, and a last ditch three-pointer from halfcourt was wide of the basket as the Pride held on the for the postseason victory.