WORCESTER – Senior Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) sank a long-range 3-pointer to put WPI ahead for the final time as Men's Basketball emerged with a 72-67 victory over visiting Keene State Wednesday evening in Harrington Auditorium.
The Engineers improve to 8-2 on the year while the Owls dip to 6-3. Both teams were receiving votes in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25. The game marked the first time Ryan Cain, the Engineer's all-time leading scorer and long-time assistant, coached against his alma mater.
Trailing 67-66 with 23.9 seconds left in the game, Doncaster hit go-ahead triple for the 69-67 advantage. Classmate Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) extended the lead by canning three of four free throws for the 72-67 final.
The first half featured four ties and six lead changes as the Owls claimed the one-point advantage (32-31) at the half. Junior Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT) led the Engineers with 11 points, including all three Crimson and Gray triples, while junior Jimmy Layman (Wrentham, MA) totaled a dozen for the guests. WPI had an edge in field goal percentage (41.2 – 39.3) as Keene State shot 45.5 percent (5 of 11) from beyond the arc compared to 25 percent (3 of 12) by the hosts. KSC went up by as much as six following a layup by senior Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, CT) at 16:08.
Layman quickly made it a four-point game with a 3-pointer just 13 seconds into the new half. The Owls regained a six-point cushion courtesy of a layup by senior Matt Ozzella (Medway, MA) with 16:47 to play. Just over a minute later, sophomore Jamani Spencer (Closter, NJ) and sophomore James Loring (Norton, MA) teamed to bring the Engineers back within one. Ozzella later pushed the Owls ahead by four behind a pair of free throws at 13:00 and a layup at 11:35. With 10:11 on the scoreboard, Converse canned a pair of freebies to even the game at 47-47. Ozzella responded with a triple 14 seconds later. Converse and Doncaster then hit back-to-back threes to take the 53-50 lead with 8:52 to play. The game was knotted again at 62 with 2:58 to go and at 66 with 42.6 on the scoreboard courtesy of sophomore Ty Nichols (Springfield, MA) and Ozzella.
Converse finished with game-bests of 23 points and 10 rebounds as Doncaster followed with 13 points and eight boards. Zielinski and Loring came off the bench to add 11 points each to go with six from freshman Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA). Spencer also totaled six points to go with six rebounds, six assists and a steal. Junior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) contributed three rebounds and junior Connor Willgress (Mill Creek, WA) handed out a trio of helpers. Junior Aaron Todd (York, ME) scored a pair of points and recorded a steal in limited action.
Four of five Keene State starters registered in double-digit scoring. Layman paced the team with 17 points followed by Ozzella (seven rebounds) with 14, Edwards with 12 and Nichols with 10. Junior Dizel Wright (Springfield, MA) came up with nine points. Freshmen Jake Collagan (Weathersfield, CT) and Deonte Vinson (Windsor, CT) combined to score the guests five bench points.
Both teams are back in action on Friday as WPI hosts Eastern Nazarene at 2pm and Keene State welcomes University of New England at 5:30pm.
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