Worcester, MA --- The WPI men's basketball team closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with one of its strongest efforts of the season, putting four players in double digits, led by junior Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) with a game-high 22 as the host Engineers beat Keene State, 88-69, at Harrington Auditorium for their sixth consecutive win.
Longwell scored 15 points in the second half as the feisty Owls keep battling throughout the game, despite trailing by over 10 for the final 32:48 of the contest.
It was fourth time the Engineers have scored 88 points or more in 10 games this season and the seventh time they have eclipsed 80 points.
Zach Karalis (North Andover, MA) added 15 points of his own, while senior captain Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) and sophomore Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) each chipped in 12. Those three combined for 15 of WPI's 21 assists, while Longwell showed versatility, shooting 10-of-13 from the floor, grabbing four steals and tying Chad LaBove (Shrewsbury, MA) with a team-high seven rebounds.
WPI pulled away with a 13-point run in the first half, hitting six 3-pointers and shooting 54.5-percent from the floor before the break. The hosts also held a stat edge for the game in bench scoring, 31-22, and were plus-12 in fast break points.
Tre' Tipton (Stamford, CT) led Keene State with 20 points, while captain Jim Hepple (Newington, CT) followed with 15. Seven-foot freshman Nate Howard (Cheshire, CT) proved a handful on the glass with nine points and 12 rebounds.
After an opening basket from Howard, Longwell responded with a 3 just 12 seconds later and 36 seconds into the game to put the hosts in front for good.
Matt Harrington (Shrewsbury, MA) hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 5:07, and Karalis sent the Engineers to their first double-digit lead on their next possession, making it 17-7 with 14:31 to play in the first half.
Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) made it a 20-point lead, 36-16, on another trey with 7:28 to go in the half. The home side scored five more points to cap the game's longest run, a 13-point spurt over a stretch of just 2:43 late in the half.
The rally finished on a 3 by Davis, who drained it off of an assist from Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, MA). That made it 41-16 with 6:05 to go in the half.
The 25-point lead was WPI's largest of the game.
The Engineers quieted down until after the intermission, though, getting outscored 19-8 for the rest of the half as the Owls closed it to 49-35.
Keene State stabilized in the second half, never letting the WPI lead surpass 19. Tipton closed it to as close as 53-42 on a Hepple layup 2:11 out of the break.
Longwell came back with a traditional three-point play and a layup in response to space the lead back out to 16 and the hosts held steady the rest of the contest.
WPI will be off until Friday, January 3 away to Becker, and won't play at home again until Saturday, January 11 when the Engineers will host rival MIT in a 2 p.m. game at Harrington Auditorium. WPI finishes its 2013 slate at 9-1.
Keene State (2-6) picks back up at home against Castleton State on January 5.
Release by Carl Setterlund - WPI Athletics Intern - Emerson '14
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