Defense Takes Center Stage for Men's Basketball on Day Two of Salem State Classic

Obi Obiora

Salem, MA --- The 11th-ranked WPI cruised to a 76-39 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham on the second day of the 2014 Salem State Holiday Classic. With the victory over the Devils, the Engineers exit the classic with a 2-0 record, including a dramatic 73-71 win yesterday over the Ephs of Williams College. WPI enhances their record to 10-1 this season while the Devils fall to 1-10. 

Zach Karalis (North Andover, MA) won Team MVP honors for the Crimson and Gray for his late-game heroics in yesterday's win with a last second three-pointer. Donte Ali (Willingboro, NJ) received the honor for his Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils. 

The Engineers opened up the contest with a commanding 11-0 run led by Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) who scored four points during the stretch. WPI's success in the offensive zone was credited to their defense which gave them plenty of possession time as they forced 13 turnovers that were converted into 10 points. Michael Barber (Middleton, NJ) tallied six points for Fairleigh Dickinson in the half including a three-pointer that broke the 11-0 run by the Engineers earlier in the half. 

Despite the outstanding shooting capability the Engineers' guards displayed in yesterday's contest, WPI looked inside to their big men as Obi Obiora (Boston, MA) and Clyde Niba (Atlanta, GA) each totaled eight points in the first half as the Engineers outscored Fairleigh Dickinson 24-4 in the paint. The Engineers took their largest lead of the half in the last two minutes of the period when John Mastascusa (North Reading, MA) sank a mid-range jump shot to put WPI atop by 26. The productivity from the Engineers bench allowed them sail to a 41-19 halftime edge as their bench outscored the Devils bench 24-7.

Fairleigh Dickinson came to within 21 after a quick 3-0 run to start to the second half, but that would be the closest they would come for the remainder of the game. The Devils could not find an answer to stop WPI's fast-paced offense as the Engineers had 13 different players scoring for them as Niba and Obiora led the team with only 10 points apiece. Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, MA) and Converse chipped in with eight points apiece while rookies Shane Farley (Burlington, MA) and Connor Willgress (Mill Creek, WA) both canned a second half 3-pointer and 6-2 classmate Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) added a breakway slam dunk.    

Although the Engineers primary scoring came from inside the paint, the team shot 43.1% from the field while the Devils shot 31.9%. The Engineers also shot an impressive 83.3% from the free throw line as a team contrary to the ineffective 30.8% from the Devils. Barber finished the game with 14 points for Fairleigh Dickinson, but his efforts wouldn't be enough as his Devils were defeated 76-39.

Junior Mark Overdevest (Morrinsville, New Zealand/Montverde Academy (FL) swatted two of WPI's three blocks while Niba narrowly missed a double-double with a game-best nine rebounds.  

WPI resume action on January 7th when they host the Pride of Springfield at 7:00pm in the NEWMAC opener for both squads.  Fairleigh Dickinson will travel to take on The College of New Jersey Lions at 7pm. 

Release Courtesy Salem State Sports Information

MVP Photo Courtesy Adam Epstein

Click HERE if the video does not appear below