Late Free Throws and Converse's 20 Points Helps Men's Basketball Outlast Wheaton 87-84

Connor Willgress (Credit: Brian Foley)

WORCESTER -- Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) flirted with a double-double and WPI canned six free throws in the final 22.5 seconds as the host Engineers held off a late Wheaton rally and defeated the Lyons 87-84 in a NEWMAC men's basketball matchup on Saturday afternoon.    

With the triumph, WPI wins its third consecutive outing and improves its record to 12-5 on the season and 3-3 in conference play.  Wheaton is now 9-8 overall and 4-2 in NEWMAC action. 

WPI went ahead 80-73 on a jumper by Jamani Spencer (Closter, NJ) with 2:37 remaining.  The guests rattled off seven of the game's next eight points - highlighted by a Alex Dubrow layup (Foxboro, MA), that fouled out Converse, and a 3-pointer from Quinton Dale (Winthrop, MA) - to slice to lead the lead to 81-80 with just under 30 seconds remaining.  The Lyons were forced to foul and the hosts drained all free throw attempts - four by Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT) and a pair from Spencer in the 22.5 seconds to secure the win.     

After a nip-and-tuck opening four minutes, WPI fought to a 15-11 point lead in the first with Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) notching seven points in the first seven minutes, to go along with a momentum-changing steal.  The Crimson and Gray followed Doncaster's performance with a 19-11 surge, to provide a lead they would not relinquish.   Both teams were very impressive shooting in the first half.  WPI was a nifty 65.4% (17-for-26) while the Lyons shot a strong 58.3% (14-for-24).  Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) netted 10 points in the opening stanza, going 4-of-6 from the floor with two free throws. Wheaton stayed within reach as Liam Bruno (Newton, MA) and Ryan Fogarty (Walpole, MA) combined for 22 first half points as the Lyons went into the locker room trailing 44-35. 

Following intermission, the Engineers held their lead with a dominant performance in the paint from Converse, who fought for ten points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.  The senior led all WPI players with 20 points and finished a rebound short of a double-double with nine boards in 34 minutes of play.  Rodgers continued his recent run of solid play with 16 points and five assists while only committing one turnover while Doncaster finished with 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and handed out four helpers.  Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) and Zielinski just missed double figures in scoring with nine points apiece and Spencer chipped in with eight.

Wheaton's scorers were headed off by Bruno with a game-high of 21 points followed by 16 and 15 each from Fogarty and Dale.  DuBrow tallied eight of 10 points off the bench after halftime.  Timothy Barry (Sterling, MA) led a balanced Lyons attack on the glass with seven rebounds.  Dale stuffed the stat sheets with five boards three assists and three steals and David Carbonello (Windham, NH) doled out a team-best four assists.

Both teams ended up shooting well over 50% for the game (WPI 57.7% and Wheaton 56.6%).  The Boynton Hillers held a 22-8 advantage in points off turnovers while the Lyons posted a 12-1 edge in second chance points. 

WPI wraps up its two-game home stand on Wednesday, hosting Coast Guard at 7pm.  Wheaton entertains MIT the same day, also with a 7pm tip. 

Majority of recap written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18

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