Worcester, MA --- Swingman Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) led the charge for the WPI men's basketball team against city rival Clark on Wednesday night at Harrington Auditorium, as the junior set a career-high with 31 points in a 81-69 victory.
Longwell scored 16 in the first half, hitting all four of his 3-pointers before the break. He then added four more field goals and seven free throws in the second half to help WPI to its 12th straight victory and its 26th win in a row at Harrington, tying Stephen F. Austin for the third longest home arena winning streak in all of men's college basketball, one ahead of Florida and one behind Duke.
Senior Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) did his part with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of season and fifth of his career, while point guard Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) and bench presence Zach Karalis (North Andover, MA) contributed eight points apiece for WPI (15-1, 5-1 NEWMAC). Freshman Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) had a career-best seven assists, helping with the distribution after Davis fouled out with 7:39 remaining.
The Engineers enjoyed a 41-20 advantage at halftime courtesy of 11 consecutive points by the red-hot Longwell late in the first half, while Clark made its rally in the second half, scoring 46 points after the break on 53.1-percent shooting.
Cougars' freshman Lucas LaLima (Colts Neck, NJ) scored 16 of his 20 in the second half to inspire the visitors. Senior sharpshooter Nicholas DaPrato (Marshfield, MA) followed close behind with 18 points on four 3-pointers while Andrew Musler (Belmont, MA) stuffed the stat sheets with eight points, a team-high nine boards, a pair of assists and steal.
The visitors stayed close early as DaPrato scored their first eight points, including his first two 3s during the opening 1:22. He gave the Cougars (9-7, 0-5) their only lead, 8-6, with a jumper under a minute later for his final points of the first half.
The WPI defense shut things down from there, keeping Clark from scoring for nearly seven minutes during an 11-0 run spurred on by a pair of hoops from Kolb as the hosts went on to take a 17-8 advantage 8:20 into the game.
The Crimson and Gray brought another wave of offense in the form of a 14-2 run a few minutes later as Michael Moroney (North Andover, MA) converted a traditional 3-point play with 7:24 left in the first half to start things off.
Longwell followed that with consecutive 3s before being interrupted by a LaLima layup. Longwell responded with five more points for a quick 11 points over a stretch of 2:02 as WPI jumped to a 34-14 lead with 4:34 left before the break.
Senior Jake Gubitose (Fiskdale, MA) drained a 3 of his own 15 seconds later to break the Cougars' drought, leading to a 41-20 tally at the intermission.
WPI held a double-digit advantage for the entire second half, weathering Clark's repeated attempts to get back into it. The Cougars twice cut the deficit to 10, first on free throws by LaLima to make it 63-53 with 7:16 left and then again, on DaPrato's final 3-pointer, cutting it to 78-68 with 1:18 remaining.
Karalis his two free throws on the Engineers' ensuing possession, while Marcus Middleton (Stoughton, MA) added another with 38 seconds left.
WPI plays next on Saturday with at 3pm game away to Wheaton. The Engineers hold a two-game lead over the next four teams in the NEWMAC standings, with wins already over Babson, Springfield, MIT and Emerson.
The Cougars jump back into action at 1pm Saturday at Springfield. They'll follow that with two more tough games, at home against Babson and MIT.
Release by Carl Setterlund - WPI Athletics Intern - Emerson '14