Worcester, MA --- Marco Coppola (Watertown, MA) and Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) combined for 43 points and the WPI defense withstood two attempts by Springfield to tie in the final seconds as the Engineers knocked off the Pride 69-66 in a battle of two unbeaten teams in the NEWMAC men's basketball play on Wednesday evening.
The Engineers, ranked sixth in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25, are now 19-0 overall and improve to 6-0 in conference action while the visitors slip to 14-5 on the season and 5-1 in NEWMAC play.
Springfield held WPI without a field goal for the final 6:28, outscoring the hosts 10-2 during that stretch with nine points coming from returning NEWMAC Player of the Year Alex Berthiaume (Springfield, MA). The Crimson and Gray however went ahead by six, 69-63 on a pair of free throws by Kolb with 1:31 left. Berthiaume cut the deficit in half on SC's next trip down the floor and then both teams traded turnovers before WPI missed a jumper with 12 seconds left. After a pair of timeouts, Springfield had two shots to tie in the last six seconds but misfired on both attempts and the Engineers escaped with the outright lead in the conference.
After a first half that saw seven lead changes and four ties, WPI gained separation by hitting six of its first eight 3-pointers en route to a 23-17 lead with 9:15 to play before the half. The Engineers extended the advantage to 11 in the final minute, but a Sean Martin (Rindge, NH) trifecta right before the final buzzer cut the Crimson and Gray edge to eight at 37-29.
Springfield scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second stanza to tie the game at 39-39 with 16:24 left. WPI later went on a 12-4 spurt to grab a 64-49 bulge with just under nine minutes remaining. Coppola and Kolb each chipped in with a 3-pointer and a jumper during the run.
Coppola ended the game with 23 points, his largest offensive outpoint since a 24-point showing against Salem State in December. The sophomore's five 3-pointers was a career-best. Kolb was the only other WPI player in double figures with 20 points. Sam Longwell (Action, MA) tossed in nine points and Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) led all players with five assists.
Berthiaume and Jordan Rote (Sheffield, MA) shared game-high scoring honors for Springfield with 18 points each. Robbie Burke (Cheshire, MA) has a monster game on the boards for the Pride, gobbling up a season-best 13 rebounds. Pat Rossi (Rock Taven, NY) and Martin finished with eight and seven points respectively.
WPI is off until Wednesday, January 30th when they head to Babson for a 7pm contest. Springfield takes on the same Beaver squad this Saturday at 3pm at Babson Park.