Shannon and Kolb Propel Men's Basketball to ECAC Semifinal Triumph

Ryan Kolb

Worcester, MA --- Senior Jaime Shannon (Lowell, MA) poured in a game-best 17 points to help lead top-seed and host WPI to a 75-50 triumph over fourth-seeded Bridgewater State in the semifinals of the ECAC Division III Men's Basketball Tournament this afternoon. 

The Engineers, who are making their first ECAC tournament appearance since the 2004 season, improve to 19-7 overall and move to the title game match-up tomorrow at 12 against second-seeded Salve Regina. The Seahawks defeated third-seeded Elms, 70-59, earlier today. 

The Bears, who faced the Crimson and Gray last season in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament, see their season come to a close at 16-12. 

For the Boynton Hillers, sophomore Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes of action as fourth-year Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) contributed 13 points and six boards. Freshman Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) added 10 points while senior David Brown (Lowell, MA) handed out a contest-best seven assists. 

Senior Anthony Fortes (Providence, RI) paced the Bears with 12 points and freshman Michael Lofton (Mansfield, MA) came off the pine to chip in with 11. Fourth-year Samuel Johnson (N. Chelmsford, MA) and junior Shawn Yard (Brockton, MA) combined for seven helpers while Johnson grabbed a team-best six caroms. 

WPI played stellar defense and held raced out to the 20-4 advantage with 13:33 left in the first half. Shannon netted 10 points in the frame and the Engineers would parlay BSU five turnovers into eight easy points in the game's opening run. 

Bridgewater State was able to cut the lead to 11 with 12:49 left and 14 around the games midway point (32-18), but the Engineers would sink six of their last 10 shots – including four free throws  by Longwell – to close out the half with a 15-6 surge for the commanding 47-24 margin at the half. 

The Crimson and Gray's halftime output tied for the second-highest total they have scored this season, going back to when they finished with a 47-46 edge against Salem State on November 27. WPI also drained 61 percent of its baskets in the stanza (19-for-31) and held a 17-0 lead in points off turnovers. 

BSU came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders on offense as they would outscore their hosts 22-14 to trail 61-46 with 8:55 remaining. But the Engineers proved to be too strong as they would close out the game with a 14-4 spurt for the final score. 

WPI finished with a 37-22 edge in rebounds and saw its reserves nearly doubled the bench scoring of its BSU counterparts (29-15). The Engineers also finished shooting 55 percent for the contest (31-for-56). 

Bridgewater State ended making 40 percent of their shots from the field (19-for-48), but only made two of their 14 attempts from downtown. The Bears were also 10-for-15 from the free throw line from the game. 

Story written by Steven M. Miller, Jr. #smmjr