Rodgers Scores 27, Stops Time, as Men's Basketball Bests Emerson

Colin McNamara

WORCESTER -- Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) paced all players with 27 points and Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) added 17 as WPI defeated visiting Emerson 105-77 in a NEWMAC men's basketball contest played Saturday afternoon in Harrington Auditorium. 

WPI is now 14-9 on the season and 8-6 in conference play while the Lions slip to 10-13 overall and 4-8 against NEWMAC foes. 

It was the 44th time in program history that the Crimson and Gray reached the century mark and the first time since December 6th, 2016 in a 105-68 victory against MCLA.  

Rodgers put on an outstanding performance, connecting 10-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc, and all four of his free throw attempts. The senior made the highlight reel in the first half with a tenacious steal which he took to the house, leaping up for a dunk and disconnecting the shot clock in the process, having it freeze at 23 until technician Shane Farley could rectify the issue. 

The Engineers started off with a dunk by senior, Aaron Todd (York, ME) and soon after, jumped out to an early 10-3 lead. Emerson's Jack O'Connor (Newport, RI) cut the home team lead down to four, when he drained his second three point attempt in a row, but it was all Crimson and Gray from there on. WPI scored the next 12 points, including Rogers' prolific dunk, and held the Lions scoreless for the next four minutes of play. 

Michael Sheng (Altadena, CA) and O'Connor ended the drought for the visitors with consecutive jumpers and Geoffrey Gray (Newport, MA) put some life in the Lions squad, surpassing 1,000 career points on a layup with 7:27 remaining in the first half.  But the Engineers were not ready to relinquish their hold on this game, forcing 10 turnovers and scoring a dozen as a result including eight total points on fast break opportunities. The Boynton Hillers and Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) were a force to be reckoned with down low, scoring from the post and making eight second chance baskets as the hosts finished the first 20 minutes of play with a 46-20 point lead. 

Coming out of the break, the home team didn't miss a beat. However, after pushing their lead to 32 points, Gray found his rhythm, scoring three-straight trifectas and brought the game back to within 19 points at 63-44 with 11:53 remaining. Jaelen Ogadhoh (Portland, OR) also found his shot in the second, scoring on a conventional three point play in the run and finishing with 10 points on the day. 

As play progressed, WPI's bench shined, as every player on the roster dented the scoring column. The Engineers finally reached the 100 point mark with 2:17 still left to play off of a layup from Ethan Harrell (Pittsburgh, PA) who ended with six points in the win. 

Rodgers was joined in double figure scored by Wisniewski (17) and Reid Walker (Lithia, FL), who poured in 13.  Wisniewski missed just one shot the entire night, finishing 6-of-7 from the floor, including a 3-pointers, and draining all four of his free throw attempts.  Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) and Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) highlighted a 37-14 edge in bench scoring with eight and seven points respectively. 

Rebounding and defense also took center stage for the hosts, who enjoyed a 45-22 advantage on the glass and limited the Lions to just 25.9% (7-for-27) shooting from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.  Rodgers, Walker and Todd shared game-high rebounding honors with seven apiece while Andreas Bitsos (Athens, Grease) added six boards to go along with three assists. 

Gray led the Emerson attack with 21 points, five assists and five rebounds.   O'Connor contributed 13 points, including a trio of 3-pointers while Sheng chipped in with 11 points and five assists and Ogadhoh added 10 points. 

WPI closes the home portion of its regular season slate on Wednesday, entertaining league-leading Springfield at 5:30pm.  Emerson hosts Babson the same night at 7:30pm. 

Story written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18