Worcester, MA --- Jaime Shannon (Lowell, MA) scored 18 points while hitting 3-of-4 free throws in the final 17.9 seconds to propel WPI to a 70-69 victory over visiting Springfield on Saturday in a NEWMAC men's basketball contest.
With 1:34 left in the game, Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, RI) fought through traffic for a short jumper to suddenly get Sprinfield back within one at 67-66. A fierce Pride defense forced WPI into a shot clock violation, and they would take over down one with 58 seconds remaining in the game. An open jumper from Coburn bounced off the rim and Jameel Galloway (Randolph, MA) secured the rebound, forcing the Pride to foul. Shannon calmly buried both free throws with 17.9 seconds left to push the score to 69-66. Springfield made 1-of-2 down at the other end, and after another foul, Shannon hit the back end of two free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining to make the score 70-67. Unable to get off a 3-pointer, Berthiaume made a floater in the lane with one second left, and WPI would escape with the win.
WPI, who is ranked fifth in the initial NCAA Division III Northeast regional rankings, pushes its record to 17-5 on the season and 7-3 in NEWMAC action. Springfield is now 15-8 overall and 6-4 in NEWMAC play.
With MIT's 63-60 overtime win today at Clark, Cambridge's Engineers clinched the top seed and host position for the NEWMAC Tournament in two weeks. WPI's victory over Springfield gives the Engineers the inside track to the five-team tournament's second seed. The Crimson and Gray would secure the second seed with a single win or a single Springfield loss over the final two games on the regular season.
Marco Coppola (Watertown, MA) contributed 13 points and three assists for WPI, while Galloway finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks while shooting 4-of-6 from the floor. Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) chipped in eight points with a team-high eight rebounds. David Brown(Lowell, MA) had nine points while Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) added eight.
Berthiaume led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 9-of-18 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. The junior also led the Pride with three steals and three assists. Robbie Burke (Cheshire, MA) had a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with five points. Coburn and Jordan Rote(Sheffield, MA) each finished with 14 points, with Coburn providing five rebounds and Rote adding four rebounds and two steals. Evan Christner(Voorheesville, NY) added four points and four rebounds.
Just after giving up the first basket of the game, the Crimson and Gray would embark on a 14-2 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers by Shannon as the hosts would take control. The Engineers would lead by as much as 14 after a 3-pointer from Coppola put WPI up 22-8 with 11:27 left in the opening period. Free throws and good defense helped Springfield chip away at that lead, using a 7-0 rally to cut the deficit to two after Rote stole the ball in the backcourt and took it in himself for a fast-break layup, 31-29 with 2:53 remaining. With 1:02 left, Sean Martin (Rindge, NH) made two free throws to pull the Pride to within one at 34-33. WPI's Carr tipped in a put-back just before halftime, and the Engineers entered the intermission leading by three. The Crimson and Gray made 7-of-14 3-pointers in the opening period, while the Pride countered by making it to the line for 14 free throws, making 11. Shannon led WPI with 11 points while Berthiaume had 16 for Springfield.
WPI opened the second half on a 7-0 run, with five of those points coming from Brown. As they had in the first period the Pride responded, with a dunk from Coburn sparking a 6-0 rally. The action quickly grew intense, as both teams attempted to assert their physical will on the game. The Crimson and Gray ground out a 54-42 lead after a turnaround jumper from Longwell with 12:06 remaining in the game. Springfield rallied again, Josh Altman (Rockport, MA) pulling the Pride to within six with 9:21 left. WPI would answer with a jumper from Galloway and a dunk by Carr had the fans at Harrington on their feet with 8:40 remaining in the game. Another rally by Springfield pulled them to within three after a layup from Coburn with 3:13 left. After two free throws from Galloway put WPI back up by five, Berthiaume got a steal in the backcourt and laid it in to pull the visitors to within three again setting up the final 90 seconds.
Both teams return to action on Wednesday at 7pm with games in the city of Worcester. WPI hosts nationally-ranked MIT while Springfield heads a little further down Park Ave to take on Clark.
Story written by Mike Rupp - WPI Athletics