Converse, Men’s Basketball Cruise Past Eastern Connecticut on Opening Night

Ian Converse

WORCESTER – Senior Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) scored a game-high 19 points to lead WPI past Eastern Connecticut State University, 76-62, on the opening night of the 2016-17 Division III Men's Basketball season Tuesday in Harrington Auditorium.

The Engineers, receiving votes in the preseason Top 25, won its 15th consecutive season opener as the two teams begin the campaign at opposite ends of the spectrum for the second year in-a-row. WPI took last year's opener from the Warriors, 60-50, at the Westfield State Tournament.

Senior Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) snapped the early 6-6 tie with a 3-pointer at 14:08. Sophomore James Loring (Norton, MA) followed with a triple at 12:39 for the 12-6 lead. A three by junior Kendall Marquez (Willimantic, CT) and a jumper by senior Brandon Kuczenski (Naugatuck, CT) brought the game back within one at 11:27. The Engineers then embarked on a 12-2 run, highlighted by three triples by junior Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT) for the 11-point lead.

ECSU whittled the lead to five following a layup by senior David Canny (Torrington, CT) with 6:26 until the intermission. A 10-point outburst by the hosts, which was capped by a traditional three-point play by freshman Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA), gave the Crimson and Gray the 15-point lead. The teams settled on 41-27 at the break.

The Engineers hit for 50 percent (15 of 30) from the field, including a blistering 72.7 (8 of 11) from beyond the arc, and owned a 23-14 bulge in rebounds, as well as a 19-5 margin in bench points. ECSU, meanwhile, turned 11 WPI turnovers into 15 points.

It remained at least a 13-point game until Warrior junior Tarchee Brown (Rockville, CT) canned a pair of free throws midway through the second half to cut the deficit to 11 (60-49). He did it again with a layup with 4:43 to play.

Wisniewski debuted with 14 points as he and Converse paced the Engineers with seven rebounds apiece. Doncaster added 10 points while junior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) and Zielinski came off the bench for nine each.

The guests were led by Brown with 23 points to go with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds by sophomore Tyrell Arnum (Bloomfield, CT). Senior Hugh Lindo (Enfield, CT) pulled down a game-best 14 boards. Brown also paced everyone with five assists.

For the game, WPI shot 48.1 percent overall and 68.8 percent from long range to go with a 30-20 differential in the paint and 28-15 off the bench. The Warriors edged the hosts 43-40 in boards, finished with 21 of the 26 points off turnovers and 15 of 22 second chance points.

WPI hosts the second annual Ted Coghlin Memorial Tournament beginning on Friday. The Engineers face Salve Regina at 5:30 and Bates plays DeSales (PA) at 7:30. Saturday's consolation will be at 1pm and the championship at 3pm. ECSU hosts the 35th annual Eastern Tip-Off Tournament on the same days and times. The Warriors face Sage in the first game and Middlebury takes on Salem State In the nightcap.

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