SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- In a Friday night game down to a battle on the boards, whichever team controlled the glass would likely leave with the win. No. 13 Putnam didn’t just control -- they all but dominated the glass in a 59-43 win against No. 21 West Springfield at home.
Putnam (12-0) took a 49-24 rebounding advantage over the West Side (11-2), led by forwards David Murrell and KayJuan Bynum -- neither a towering forward, but two tough, physical rebounders. Murrell ended with a game-high 17 rebounds, while Bynum added 12.
“That was part of the game plan,” Putnam coach William Shepard said. “Limit them to one shot. That was the key to the game in my opinion.”
Putnam scored 10 of its 12 first quarter points off second chance opportunities, as the Beavers came away with 18 offensive rebounds.
"We did a terrible job on the board,” West Side coach Chris Gerber said. “We knew if they beat us, that’s how they were going to beat us.”
What made matters worse for West Side was when senior forward, Chris Lipscomb sat most of the first half with foul trouble.
“We said that from the start,” Murrell said. “Coach talked to us and said we had an advantage down there and just take it to them.”
Putnam took a 26-15 lead into halftime as the Murrell and Bynum worked the glass, the guard play stepped up for Beavers.
Riyadh Asad hit a three to close out the second half, trimming Putnam’s lead to single digits, 38-30. Putnam responded in the start of the fourth with a 12-0 run sparked by the guard play, including consecutive plays from the Putnam backcourt. Following a Ki-Shawn Monroe drained a three, followed by Ty Nichols steal, ending with a layup and a foul, extending the lead to 46-30.
Nichols had 14 points and two rebounds in a breakout game.
“Ty came big off the bench,” Bynum said. “We expected this all season. This was the perfect game to come out. We knew what Ty is capable up.”
When West Side went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to five in the third, Nichols scored a pair of buckets to counter the Terriers’ run.
“We had great help off the bench from Ty Nichols,” Shepard said. “We we’re kind of getting on him at practice the past two weeks. We just didn’t think he was coming as hard as he could. The last couple days, we’ve noticed a difference and it showed today.”
Bynum had a team-high 16 points, with Murrell adding 10. Asad had 17 points and three rebounds.
Not caught up in the hype: At 12-0, Putnam is looking like the favorite to come out of Western Mass. After Friday’s win, an impressive performance at the Hoophall Classic, and Springfield Central still trying to develop players by the playoffs, the Beavers are the most complete team.
However, the undefeated start is not something the Beavers are getting caught up in.
“We talk about it every day,” Shepard said. “One practice at a time one game at a time. We’re defining each other roles, so we know exactly what we are doing come playoff time.”
Shepard has preached defense and his team has responded. The dominance on the glass was evident by the box score, but the perimeter players forced West Side into tough, contested shots.
“It started with the guys communicated and the team (defense),” the second-year coach added. “The help could have been a little bit better, but overall the energy that they maintained the whole game – 32 minutes is what we preach every day. We came close today to a complete 32.”
West Side on a skid: After starting out 9-0, the Terriers have dropped two of the last three.
The Terriers saw the first mark in the loss column come last Friday in a 76-67 loss to Central at the Hoophall Classic. West Side is without junior guard Paul Bessette, who broke a bone in his left hand back on Jan. 14. Friday, the Terriers saw Lipscomb, versatile forward, plagued with foul trouble.
“It hurts when he’s not on the floor,” Gerber said.. It’s the first time all year he’s been in foul trouble. He’s the best rebounder and best defender around, by far, it’s not even close. You take him out of the equation, it’s not the same.”
An experienced West Side team is not worried about the two losses in three games. The only trio of games Gerber is worrying about come in March.
“You try to win three games at the end of the year. We’re in the tournament. Like you always say, seeds don’t matter and they don’t. They really don’t matter at all.
“We need to get better offensively or we’re not going to beat anyone good when it matters. If we do that, we have a great shot.”