Defense Keys Men's Basketball to 71-38 Victory Over Babson in NEWMAC Opener
Worcester, MA --- Marco Coppola (Watertown, MA) poured in a game-best 18 points to lift host WPI to a 71-38 victory versus Babson in the NEWMAC opener for both squads on Saturday afternoon.
The Engineers, ranked No. 14 in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25, remain perfect on the season at 13-0 and set a new school record with their 15th consecutive win. WPI concluded the 2011-2012 season by winning a pair of games to capture ECAC New England Division championship.
WPI broke open a close contest when it rattled off 18 straight points during a nearly seven minute stretch towards the end of the opening stanza. Copploa and freshman Zach Karalis (North Andover, MA) were instrumental during the spurt, combining for 16 points as the Crimson and Gray drained 7-of-9 shots during the run while forcing the Beavers into missing all six of their shots and committing five turnovers.
The hosts led 42-19 at the break and never saw its advantage slip below 21 in the second half.
Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) doled out a game-high five assists, picked off three steals, pulled down seven boards and added five points on the night. Karalis finished the game with 11 points while senior Joe Wesoloski (Arlington, MA) chipped in nine. Matt Harrington (Shrewsbury, MA) and Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) combined for 14 points and Davis added six rebounds.
Babson was paced by Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, NY), who collected a team-high 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and grabbed six rebounds. John Wickey (Manchester, NH) led all players with eight rebounds (seven on the defensive end) while Matt Palazini (Franklin, MA) tossed in seven points. Travis Sheldon (Woodstock, NY) and Kenny Ross (Furlong, PA) both recorded two assists and a pair of steals.
For the game, WPI shot 51.8% while limiting the Beavers to just 26.5% from the floor, including just 2-of-24 (8.3%) from behind the 3-point arc. The Engineers outscored the visitors 32-16 in the paint and their reserves out-produced their Babson counterparts by a 29-10 margin.
The 38 points allowed by the Crimson and Gray equaled the lowest during the Chris Bartley era (vs. Fitchburg State - 1/8/04) while the last time the Engineers allowed fewer was 61 years ago when they held Westover Air Force Base to 30 points on January 12th, 1952, a span of 1,372 games.
WPI kicks off a three-game road trip Tuesday at Coast Guard. Tipoff is slated for 7:30pm. In a scheduling oddity, Babson returns to Worcester on Tuesday, this time to face Clark at 4pm.