Ashland, VA --- The No. 13 WPI men's basketball team's storied season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight with a 76-53 loss to No. 1 Randolph-Macon on Saturday night.
The Engineers advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for just the second occasion and the first time since the 1985 season. WPI finished the year with a 27-3 record, the 27 victories marking the most in program history. The three victories in the NCAA Tournament also marked the first time in program history that the Engineers achieved that feat.
Top-ranked Randolph-Macon (31-1) will face No. 2 Marietta, an 81-79 winner over No. 4 Christopher Newport, in one semifinal in Fort Wayne, IN. On the other side of the bracket, No. 16 Elmhurst outlasted No. 6 Mary Hardin-Baylor 87-84 in overtime in their quarterfinal and No. 15 Wabash and No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan were tied midway through the second half of their tilt.
Junior John Lowther (Hingham, MA) led the way with a 15-point, six-rebound night for the Crimson and Gray, while graduate student Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) finished his WPI career out with a 13-point, five rebound night. John Adams (Douglas, MA) finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
McNamara ended his career with 1,039 total points. The guard became the 27th player in Engineer history to join the 1,000 point club in the team's NCAA opening round game against Vassar, and currently ranks 24th all-time in program history. It also marked the final game for graduate student Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) and Logan O'Donnell (Fishkill, NY). Downing, like McNamara, made the commitment to return for a fifth year after the pandemic derailed a promising senior campaign last season, appeared in 104 games and amassed 902 career points while O'Donnell's emergence in the post was key in WPI's 12 game win streak that led to the quarterfinal appearance.
Randolph-Macon was led by a 23-point, five rebound, four assist and five steal effort from Buzz Anthony (Arnold, MD) who was 5-for-9 from deep on the evening. Anthony was aided by an 11-point effort from Miles Mallory (Beltsville, MD) and a pair of nine point efforts from both Josh Talbert (Virginia Beach, VA), who also added seven rebounds, and off the bench from Ian Robertson (Lewes, DE) who drained three treys in 15 minutes of action.
The two teams battled for the first six minutes of action but a quick 6-0 run by Randolph-Macon gave the Yellow Jackets a 16-10 lead, and after a pair of Adams free throws, the Yellow Jackets knocked down back-to-back treys from Will Coble (Charlotte, NC) and Vincent Payne (Frederick, MD) to gain a 10-point advantage halfway through the first half.
WPI did not go away, however, whittling down the lead to just five following an Adams layup, and later a McNamara lay-in. But just as the Engineers were within striking distance, Randolph-Macon regained their double-digit lead, and more, utilizing a 7-2 run to take a 35-25 advantage after an Anthony trey with 3:52 left in the first half.
The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the first half, and Randolph-Macon entered the locker room with a 40-33 advantage at the half.
Randolph-Macon's defense locked down in the second half, holding the Engineers to just eight points through the first 15 minutes of action while continuing to build on its seven-point halftime lead, ultimately gaining a 24-point advantage, 65-41, with 5:10 to go in the game. An Adams and-one cut things to 21 and marked WPI's first points in nearly four minutes. Donovan Sevilla (San Ramon, CA) gave the Boynton Hillers a spark in the waning minutes, draining a pair of 3-pointers.