Courtesy of Springfield Sports Information
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Thomas College men's basketball team ended a four-game winning streak in a 74-53 loss to Springfield College in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic in Blake Arena on Saturday evening.
Now in its 31st year of existence, this year's Naismith Classic also features Fitchburg State and Wesleyan University. Tonight's win snapped Springfield's five-game losing skid as the Pride evened its record to 5-5, while the setback dropped the Terriers to 5-4.
Jake Ross led all scorers with 24 points to go along with six boards for the Pride, while both Brandon Eckles and Andy McNulty netted 14 points apiece. Springfield held a 43-34 edge on the glass, including a 17-6 advantage on the offensive boards, which resulted in 22 second-chance points.
Thomas was paced by an 18-point, seven-rebound effort from Carlos Gonzalez (Kennebunk, Maine), while five other players scored at least four points.
Springfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead following jumpers from Eckles and McNulty in the opening two minutes of the game and an inside finish by Kevin Durkin at the 13:02 mark gave the hosts a 14-8 cushion. Thomas would battle back to within 17-16 thanks to a putback by Lovegeurson Fleurine (Fort Pierce, Fla.) with 9:57 on the clock, but the Pride responded with a 7-0 push, capped off by a Ross finish in transition to regain a 24-16 advantage as Thomas called for a timeout at the 7:39 mark.
The Pride's would lead grow to 11 on a putback by Earle with 5:45 remaining and the hosts would head into the break with a 35-27 cushion.
Five-straight points by Ross in the opening three-plus minutes of the second half allowed Springfield to gain a 42-29 lead and the Terriers burned a timeout with 15:44 on the clock facing a 46-31 deficit after McNulty converted a fast-break bucket. Earle stroked a deep triple to make it a 53-31 contest at the 12:36 mark, only to have Thomas answer with 11-straight points to battle within 53-42 with 9:14 left. The Pride responded right back with an 8-2 run, using another trifecta from Ross to push the lead back to 17, 61-44, with 7:09 left.
The Terriers would get no closer than 13 and Springfield would lead by as many as 21 points twice down the stretch, with a bucket from Ben Diamond completing the game's scoring for the 74-53 finale.
The Terriers will face either Fitchburg State or Wesleyan University on Sunday, December 31 for the second day of the tournament.