Pittsfield Runs Past Drury to Third Straight WinPITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Generals upended Drury 68-43 at the Moynihan Fieldhouse, using their speed and athleticism on defense during a second-half scoring surge to continue their winning ways.
“We knew we were faster. We knew we were more athletic and we knew we could get up and down the floor better,” said Pittsfield head coach Steve Ray, whose team is riding a three-game winning streak since losing to Monument Mountain on December 29.
A slow, methodical first-half tempo dictated the first half of the game, in which Drury (4-5, 1-2) led for all but 54 seconds and were never down by more than a single point. A Justin Hopkins three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining gave the Generals a rare, one-point lead headed into halftime, before Ray’s decision to implement the full-court press changed the game in Pittsfield’s (7-3, 2-0 North Division) favor.
“It gave us some energy and gave them some problems. We were flat in the first half. We came out of halftime knowing two things: We had to pick up the tempo and we also knew that they had a short bench,” Ray said.
Led by Keiland Cross and Amancho Adopo, the Generals closed out the third quarter with a 14-4 run, confusing the Blue Devils players, much to the bewilderment of head coach Jack Racette.
“They turned the pressure up and we didn't handle the pressure. It's that simple. I don't know if the pressure's that good or if we just don't handle it that well. We'll have to figure that out in the next nine games,” Racette said.
Drury lost its third game in four outings, including a close win at home against Taconic in its previous game. Dealing with a number of injuries and illnesses, the Blue Devils were without junior guard Byron Adams, who played in seven games this season, and rotated six players off their bench, according to Racette.
Between playing shorthanded and flustering those who were in blue and white uniforms, the Generals decision to ratchet up the pace of the game worked much in the favor of their clear advantage athletically.
Beginning with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, following a Slaytor Aubin free throw, Pittsfield reeled off a 14-4 run to take full control of the game. Senior Brendan Hamel began and ended the spurt, hitting consecutive three-point shots to push a four-point lead to 34-25 with 4:50 to go in the third and cleaning up a few missed shots by putting in a layup off the glass with 41 seconds left. Cross, Adopo and a free throw by James Conant filled in the rest of the scoring on the run, which ended when Blue Devil Brett Denning banked in a layup with one second left to go into the fourth quarter down down 43-31.
Despite knowing that the Generals were going to change its defensive philosophy coming out of the locker room, Drury was unable to overcome the stifling nature of the press, according to Racette.
“We knew they were going to pressure, we talked about it at halftime, we come out and we have the wrong guy taking the ball out of bounds. That's just panicking,” Racette said, who went on to describe how important it is for his team to remain composed and dictate the pace of the game.
“It's frustrating as a coach. We're an x's and o's kind of team. We can always put them in a spot, but they were way more athletic than us. Once the game got going fast, our guys couldn't handle it. They just couldn't handle the pressure, so we have to get better at handling it,” Racette said.
Despite being in the penalty to start the fourth quarter, the Generals rattled off a 9-2 run to give them a 18-point lead with 4:17 left in the game, essentially sealing their victory. Adopo had five points during the run to add to his game-high 18, in his second game this season after posting two points and five fouls in his first outing against Mount Greylock in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament thriller.
Hamel finished with 15 points, while Cross chipped in 12, but his impact was more apparent than what shows up on the box score. In fact, Ray believes that his increased impact has been evident since being blown out by Saint Joseph’s 74-30 at the Boys & Girls Club on December 23.
“Keiland Cross, after the St. Joe's game, he was the most disappointed kid. He put zeros across the board. Since then, he's got a renewed commitment and we go with him. He works hard on the glass, he's going to the hoop, we can use him at the point. He can play five positions for us. We're really impressed with what he he's given us,” Ray said.
The Generals play next on Tuesday when they host Hoosac Valley at 7pm. Drury also plays next on Tuesday, traveling to Mount Greylock at 7pm.