Wheeler, Downing, Stephenson Guide No. 23 Men's Basketball by MIT in NEWMAC Opener

Dakota Wheeler

WORCESTER – Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) led four players in double figures as the WPI men's basketball team opened conference play with a 68-52 victory over visiting MIT this evening in NEWMAC action. 

With the win, No. 23 WPI improves to 10-2 on the season and 1-0 in league action, while MIT is now 7-5 overall and 0-1 in the NEWMAC. 

MIT jumped out to the early lead, 10-4 just under six minutes into the game, but WPI used a 14-3 run over the next eight minutes taking an 18-13 lead. 

The visitors closed the gap to two, 18-16, on a three by Matas Masys (Oakbrook Terrace, IL), but the home-standing Engineers would go on a 15-0 run - capped by a Wheeler jumper - to take a 31-16 advantage before heading to the break leading 31-22 after MIT closed the half with six straight points. 

MIT narrowed the gap to eight in the opening minute of the second, but the Engineers pushed the lead to 42-25 after a 7-0 run capped by a Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) layup. 

The guests minimized the gap to 12 on several occasions in the second, but WPI was able to extend the lead to as many as 20 on multiple occasions to secure the league victory. 

WPI saw four players scored double figures led by 14 points off the bench from Wheeler. Wheeler connected on 7-of-9 from the floor and added four rebounds.  Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) and Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) chipped in with 12 points apiece, while Wisniewski finished with 10.  

MIT was led by 18 points on 7-of-10 from the floor from Giannis Chatziveroglou (Athens, Greece), while Ian Hinkley (Raleigh, NC) was the only other Cambridge Engineer with double figures as he scored 10 points and added a pair of steals. 

WPI shot 50% from the floor in the game, while MIT connected on 42% of their offerings.  WPI held a 30-10 advantage in points in the paint, while they converted 18 MIT turnovers into 15 points.  Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) led a strong WPI passing attack with seven assists while Downing and Stephenson both doled out five helpers.  For the game, the Crimson and Gray totaled 23 assists on 29 baskets.  MIT enjoyed success as well, assisting on 14 of its 17 made baskets with Dan Pilsbury (Millington, NJ) handing out a team-best four. 

WPI closes out its two-game, NEWMAC-opening home stand on Saturday afternoon, hosting No. 14 Babson at 2pm.  MIT entertains Coast Guard also at 2pm on Saturday.