Second Half Surge Sends Undefeated Men's Basketball Past Tufts 89-66

Dakota Wheeler
Dakota Wheeler

Medford, MA --- Six different WPI players reached double digits in scoring and the Engineers held host Tufts to just 24 points in the second half as the Crimson and Gray defeated the Jumbos 89-66 in a non-conference men's basketball contest on Tuesday evening.  

WPI, who is receiving votes in the most recent D3hoops.com Top 25, is now 5-0 on the season.  It marks the first 5-0 start for the Crimson and Gray since the 2016-17 campaign but the eighth such occurrence in the last 15 years.  Tufts is now 2-2 on the season.  

Trailing 42-40 at intermission, the Engineers came out flying in the second half, scoring 24 of the first 29 points in the opening 9:04 to go ahead 64-47.  A conventional 3-point play by Tufts' Carson Cohen (Easthampton, MA) seemed to stop the surge, but three consecutive trifectas by WPI - two from Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) and one by Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) - completed an impressive 33-8 run that put the game out of reach with less than nine minutes remaining. 

Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) and Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) shared team-high scoring honors for WPI with 18 points each. Wheeler added 14, including 4-of-6 on 3-pointers, while Needleman chipped in with 13, Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) 11 and Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) 10.  Wisniewski gobbled up 10 rebounds, 8 on the defensive glass, for his second career double-double while Stephenson fell just one rebound shy of his second double-double of the season.  Walker stuffed the stat sheet with a game-best six assists to go along with six boards, a pair of blocks and a steal while Dowling and Needleman each doled out four assists. 

Luke Rogers (Boxboro, MA) was impressive for the Jumbos.  The sophomore center drained 10 of his 13 field goal on his way to a game-high 23 points, including 17 in the first half.  Cohen finished with 14 points and joined Walker with six assists while Justin Kouyoumdjian (La Canada, CA) tallied 12 points and Tyler Aronson (Holliston, MA) hauled-in a team-best eight rebounds. 

Tufts shot 57.1% from the floor in opening half but the WPI defense stiffened after intermission, holding the hosts to just 6-of-30 (20.0%) and 1-of-13 (7.7%) from downtown.  While the Jumbos struggled from 3-point land in the second half, the Engineers flourished, canning 7-of-12 (58.3%) attempts from behind the arc.  WPI outrebounded the hosts 47-36 and enjoyed a 15-5 bulge in points off turnovers. 

Both teams are back in action Saturday.  WPI heads to Fitchburg State for a noontime start while Tufts plays at host Babson in the Big 4 Challenge at 5pm.