Men's Basketball Advances to Play Amherst in Second Round of NCAA Tournament

Jeffrey Robinson

Worcester, MA --- Senior Jeff Robinson's (Granby, CT) three-pointer with 14.5 seconds left was the difference as he helped lift WPI to a dramatic 58-57 victory this evening over visiting Bridgewater State in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Engineers (23-5) move on to play Amherst in the second round tomorrow at Harrington Auditorium at 7 PM tomorrow. The Bears see their four-game win streak come to an end as they wrap up their 2010-11 season at 19-10.

With Bridgewater State up 55-53 with 1:46 remaining, Robinson helped the Crimson and Gray knot the score with a pair of free throws at 1:19.

BSU senior Judah Jackson (Everett, MA) then sank the back-end of a double-bonus opportunity for the one-point edge with 65 ticks left. The two squads would then trade possessions before sophomore Shawn Yard (Brockton, MA) gave the Bears the two-point cushion on the second of his two attempts at the charity stripe with 21 seconds remaining.

That would set the stage for Robinson to help the Boynton Hillers overcome a 2-for-11 effort from downtown as his 21-foot attempt came from the top of the arc.

Bridgewater State had one more chance for the go-ahead basket in the waning seconds, but senior Corey Connor's (Providence, RI) bid from the left wing was just to the right of the basket.

A strong transition game jump started Bridgewater State as they opened the contest with a 12-4 run over the first five minutes and the Bears led 16-8 with 11:19 remaining in the half.

But WPI used a 7-0 surge to get within one before a jumper by Jackson and a lay-up by senior Samuel Johnson (N. Chelmsford, MA) brought the edge back up to five points (20-15). The Engineers, however, had other plans as Robinson would score four out of the next six tallies for the 21-20 advantage with 6:30 left.

After three ties and three lead changes the Bears would eventually emerge with the 28-26 lead at the half.

WPI opened the second half strong as they got things going with a 10-2 run for the 36-30 lead at the 15:22 mark.

The Bears though came roaring back as they used an 11-4 spurt of their own to get within one point with 10:43 left on a Jackson jumper (41-40).

A raucous crowd of 1,500 would then be treated to a trio of ties and three lead changes over the next nine minutes of game play as neither team would lead by more than three during that stretch.

At WPI 2:08 would end a five minute field goal drought as junior Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) tied the score before Johnson's lay-up gave the Bridgewater State their two-point lead with 1:46.

Robinson led all players with 23 points including a eight-for-nine performance from the free throw line while Carr finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Junior Fernando Perez (Lowell, MA) and classmate Jerome Stewart (Bloomfield, CT) both chipped in with eight points apiece. Senior Ben Etten (Hollis, NH) was a defensive presence for the Boynton Hillers with seven boards and five swipes.

Jackson paced the Bears with 21 points on eight of 16 shooting while he also ended the evening with six rebounds and six steals. Senior Nicholas Motta (Fairhaven, MA) added 13 points and Connor recorded 12 points. Yard also dished out six assists for the visitors.

Both teams connected for around 40 percent for the game. Bridgewater State struggled from the free throw line as they were 53.3 percent for the contest (8-for-15) as WPI was 76 percent from the charity stripe for the game (16-for-21).

The two squads would combine for 44 turnovers and 30 steals as BSU had the 18-12 edge in swipes. Over a third of the games total points came off of miscues (40 points).

Both teams were held to below their season averages as BSU came into the contest with 82.4 points per game while the Crimson and Gray had a mean score of 71.1 in 27 contests.

Jackson finished seventh all-time in his career at Bridgewater State (1,481) while Motta was not far behind in ninth (1,434).

Connor ends his three-years as a Bear owning the single season mark in three pointers made (89) and percentage (.481) while he also finished as the all-time leader in percentage from beyond the arc for his career (.430).

Story written by Steven M. Miller Jr. - Worcester State Sports Information