Ashland, VA --- Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) scored on backdoor cut with 16.3 seconds remaining and John Adams (Douglas, MA) deflected RPI's final bid in the waning seconds as WPI advances to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Sectional Final following a pulsating 56-55 victory over Transit Trophy rival RPI in a Round of 16 played at Randolph-Macon on Friday evening.
Worcester's Engineers advance to the national quarterfinals for the first time since 1985 and their three NCAA Tournament wins this month mark the most in a single postseason in program history. No. 13 WPI, winners of 12 in a row, is now 27-2 on the season, surpassing the 2012-2013 squad for the school's single season victory record.
WPI will now face the winner of Friday's second game between host Randolph-Macon and UMass Dartmouth on Saturday at 7:30pm back in Crenshaw Gymnasium.
Knotted at 51, Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to put WPI ahead by three with 2:24 remaining. After both teams had empty possessions, RPI got within one when Will Rubin (Mount Kisco, NY) parlayed a WPI turnover into a fast break layup following a Dom Black (Arlington, MA) steal and feed.
Worcester's Engineers misfired on the ensuing possession and RPI regained the advantage with 34.4 seconds left when Rubin took advantage of open space and drained a layup to put RPI ahead 55-54. After a time out and an RPI foul, WPI executed a perfectly designed inbounds play where freshman Aidan Callahan (Rowley, MA) inbounded to John Lowther (Hingham, MA), who found a back-door cutting McNamara whose shot rolled and bounced around the rim multiple times before dropping through with 16.3 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, RPI moved into the front court and missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the scramble for the rebound resulted in a jump ball with the possession arrowing favoring Troy's Engineers with 1.6 seconds left. Neither team called time out and Adams deflected the inbounds pass into the waiting arms of McNamara to secure WPI's spot in the Elite Eight.
In a game featuring 11 lead changes and eight ties, the game was played in a tight window with RPI's biggest lead being seven points and WPI's largest bulge being three. RPI began the game hitting its first two 3-pointers to go up 6-0 just 81 seconds into the game, but only connected on 1-of 13 from downtown the rest of the way. WPI only lead twice in the opening half as New York's Engineers took a 29-27 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
Lowther paced all scorers with 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. McNamara played all 40 minutes and reached double figures with 12 points and chipped with a game-best four steals. Downing was amazingly efficient, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point land, while Adams narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and a game-high nine boards. Callahan led players by doling out nine assists while only committing two turnovers.
Mason Memmelaar (Middletown, NY) notched 18 points for RPI while Rubin netted 13 and Jonny Angbazo (Tenafly, NJ) collected 12. Black aided the effort with six points, seven rebounds and three steals.
WPI outshot its Engineer counterparts by a 53.7% to 41.7% margin but RPI parlayed 16 WPI turnovers into 18 points and outscored the Crimson and Gray 34-18 in the paint.