Hartford, Conn. – Sophomore guard Alex Garstka (Westfield, Mass.) scored a game-high 22 points, including his team's first six in overtime, and dished out five assists to lead the visiting Springfield College Pride to an 81-77 victory over the Trinity College Bantams in men's basketball action this evening in Oosting Gymnasium. Trinity, playing its home opener, falls to 4-3, while the Pride ups its season mark to 5-1.
Springfield spoiled a heroic comeback in the second half by the Bantams who trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half and were down double digits with under five minutes left before using a 12-0 run to tie the game at 70-70 in the final two minutes on a three-pointer from the left wing by junior guard Hart Gliedman (New York, N.Y.). Trinity sophomore Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) blocked a Springfield shot inside and both teams missed potential game-winners from the outside in the final minute of regulation. Trinity sophomore guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) drilled a trey early in overtime to give Trinity a 73-70 lead, but back-to-back scores by Garstka gave Springfield a 74-73 edge at the 2:18 mark. Bantam junior co-captain center George Papdeas (Athens, Greece) made one of two free throws to tie it, but Garstka answered with a pair from the charity stripe after being fouled on a drive. With Trinity trailing, 76-74, Starks' layup to tie the game rolled off the rim and a three-pointer by Springfield junior tri-captain guard Nick Sienkewicz (Cranston, R.I.) put the Pride up 79-74 with less than a minute left to play. Springfield senior tri-captain guard Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) added a pair of free throws, and Starks made a final triple in the closing seconds for an 81-77 final tally.
In the first half, Ajayi made the first of his career-high four three-pointers in as many attempts to give Trinity a 12-11 lead with 16:41 on the clock, but Springfield scored the next 15 points for a 26-12 advantage after a trey by sophomore forward Larry Piretra (Oakland, N.J.). The Pride maintained a double-digit lead into the break, shooting 55.2 percent from the field in the first half. Trinity came out strong after intermission, using a 12-1 run to pull within a basket at 41-39 on a layup by Papadeas, but Springfield rallied with an 11-2 spurt for a 52-41 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the second half. Down, 70-58, Trinity scored 12 points in a row including two three-pointers by Ajayi, a fastbreak dunk by Papadeas, the first Bantam free throw of the game by Gliedman, and Gliedman's game-tying trey.
Trinity shot 65.4 percent from the field in the second half (17-26) and made eight of its tries from long range after halftime, finishing 30-for-62 from the field and 15-for-30 from beyond the arc for the game, but made two foul shots over 45 minutes in just four attempts. Springfield committed only four turnovers and 10 fouls, while finishing 30-for-61 from the field. The Bantams held a 35-30 rebounding edge and blocked eight shots. Ajayi paced Trinity with 20 points, making eight of nine shots from the field, and added five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, while Papadeas added 13 points, six boards, and three blocks, and sophomore guard Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) notched 12 points and five assists off the bench. Gliedman totaled 10 points and three assists, while Starks had nine points and a game-high nine assists, and freshman forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) grabbed a team-high seven boards. Sienkiewicz finished with 16 points, while Martin had 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals, and senior forward Tim Swenson (Millbury, Mass.) added 10 points, two blocks, and a game-high eight boards for the Pride.