WORCESTER – Chris Rodgers' (Franklin, MA) floater with 0.4 seconds remaining gave WPI a dramatic 67-66 victory over visiting Clark in a NEWMAC men's basketball contest played on Wednesday evening.
The Engineers, ranked 14th in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25, move to 14-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play. WPI is in a three-way tie for first atop the NEWMAC with MIT and Babson after MIT's 71-66 road win over the Beavers this evening. Clark is now 5-11 overall and 2-3 in league action.
In a contest that was back-and-forth in the final minutes, the Cougars went ahead by one at 64-63 when Luca McCormick (Brandenton, FL) knocked in a 3-pointer on the right wing with 51.8 seconds left following a pass by Luke LaLima (Colts Neck, NJ). The Engineers missed a pair of shots on their ensuing possession and Clark's John Pisacreta (Andover, MA) canned two freebies at the other end with 14.4 seconds remaining to put the guests up three at 66-63. The Cougars elected to foul right away and Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) hit a pair of free throws to bring the Engineers within one at 11.2 seconds left. WPI quickly fouled and Clark missed both ends of the double bonus setting up the frantic finish. Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) grabbed the rebound and found Doncaster, who pushed the ball up the court. Doncaster hit Rodgers with a pass in the right corner and the sophomore took two dribbles to the block and shot it with his left hand off the glass to send the Harrington Auditorium faithful in a frenzy.
The second half alone featured 11 lead changes and six ties and saw neither team led by more than six points. WPI appeared to take the upper hand when it used a pair baskets by Converse and a layup from Doncaster to go up 43-37 five minutes into the second half only to see the Cougars rattle off seven of the next nine points to get the game close again.
The hosts led by as many as 11 in the opening half but saw the Cougars end the session with a 14-1 spurt over the final 3:41 of the opening stanza with LaLima accounting for nine of the 14 points and Tyler Huffman (West Hartford, CT) logging the other five as Clark held a 30-28 advantage at the break.
Converse led the way for WPI with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Doncaster notched 12 points while Obi Obiora (Boston, MA) tallied 10 points and joined Converse with a team-best six rebounds. Rogers handed out five assists in addition to his four points and Aaron Davis (Marshfield MA) and Aaron Todd (York, ME) both ended with eight points with Davis doing all of his damage after halftime. WPI's top scorer Clyde Niba (Atlanta, GA) was saddled with foul trouble and played just three minutes in the second half but did account for a big 3-point play with 2:51 to go.
As a team, WPI drained 13-of-14 free throw attempts, including all 12 of its second half bids.
Clark saw three people reach double figures, powered by Huffman's game-high 22 points, including a trio of 3-pointers and a 9-of-10 performance from the free throw line. LaLima and McCormick sparked the guests off the bench with 11 points each. David Mercier (Milford, MA) added eight points and five rebounds while John Pisacreta and Joe Atkinson (Milford, MA) shared team-best honors with four assists each.
WPI embarks upon a brief two-game road trip starting Saturday at 3pm versus Wheaton. Clark closes out a run of three straight road contests Saturday evening at Springfield.
Recap co-written by WPI Intern Ryan Walsh
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