UMass Dartmouth 81, WPI 68
Worcester, MA --- Matt Walker (Brockton, MA) scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half, leading UMass Dartmouth to a 81-68 win over WPI in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament Saturday evening at Harrington Auditorium. The win pushes UMD (27-3) into the sectionals next weekend. WPI's season, the fifth straight in which it has reached the NCAA tournament, comes to an end with a 21-6 record. Sites for the sectionals will be announced late Sunday evening or early Monday morning.
Walker was perfect from the field on the night, shooting 9-for-9 including 2-for-2 from behind the arc. UMass Dartmouth never trailed in the game, as they fended off several WPI comeback attempts in the second half. The Engineers were able to trim the lead to six points six different times in the second half but were unable to climb any closer to tying the score.
The Corsairs controlled the tempo from the outset, forcing 13 WPI turnovers in the first nine minutes of the first half on their way to opening up a double digit advantage. UMD scored 16 points off Engineer miscues in the half. The turnovers offset the hot shooting by NT Izuchi (Boston, MA) who hit all three of his attempts from three-point land in the half. Izuchi paced the Engineers with nine first-half points.
UMass Dartmouth had its share of hot shooters as well, with Walker and Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA) combining to shoot a perfect 10-for-10 from the field in the first 20 minutes. Walker drained 16 first-half points, while Brandon Shelton netted 12 and Freeman seven in the opening frame as UMD took a 42-34 lead into the locker room.
Freeman added 18 points and a game-best five assists for the Corsairs. Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA) contributed 15 points, 12 coming in the opening half. Walker added six rebounds for UMass Dartmouth.
Adam Lirette (Dover, NH) scored 12 points in his final game, while Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, CT) and Fernando Perez (Lowell, MA) contributed 11 points apiece. Izuchi added nine points and a team-high six rebounds, while Jerome Kirkland (Boston, MA) dropped in seven points and dished out three assists, each in their last game with the Engineers.
WPI concludes its sixth consecutive 20-win season and seventh in team history. The only other Division III programs currently with six straight 20-win seasons are Wooster (OH) (13 years), Maryville (TN) (11) and Amherst (9).
Story written by Ray Cotrufo ’98 - WPI Athletics Department