WORCESTER -- Coming off of a tough loss to Tufts, WPI defeated Framingham State, 77-46, in a non-conference men's basketball match Thursday night to get back to .500 on the season.
The Engineers opened the second half extending their lead to as much as 31 with Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) reaching double figures in scoring and a trio of field goals from Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT). The Rams we able to find rhythm as the home team gave some of their younger players experience on the court. Charles Valbrun (Hyde Park, MA) nailed a big three pointer with 9:24 left in the game to cut into WPI's lead and James Purcell (Leominster, MA) grabbed five off of the glass to help FSU quadruple its rebound count over the course of the second half of play. That being said, the WPI rookies came to play. Ethan Harrell (Pittsburgh, PA) canned seven points in 16 minutes of play and Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) dished out seven assists, leading the Engineers to the win.
An early Framingham State three gave the visitors a 3-2 lead just under two minutes into the game. From there it was all WPI, scoring 14 unanswered points over a nearly six minute run bringing the Engineers out to a 16-3 lead. WPI's scoring was highlighted by three Zielinski shots from beyond the arc, choreographed by a set of beautiful plays from Coach Chris Bartley, who, in his 17th season is looking to eclipse 325 wins with WPI by the end of this season.
The Crimson and Gray played a disciplined first half, collecting 13 takeaways from Framingham while only committing seven turnovers of their own. The home team was also dominant off the glass, tallying 21 total caroms to just 6 and scoring 14 points off of second chance attempts. This was led by Andreas Bitsos (Athens, Greece) who collected three defensive boards and four total over the first 20 minutes of play. Not to be silenced, Ram guard Manny Payton (Fitchburg, MA) notched 13 points by the end of the first half to lead all scorers at the break. WPI went back to the locker room holding a 45-24 lead.
Zielinski led WPI with 18 points, making six-of-seven 3-point attempts on the night and Stephenson contributed a tally of 11 with five rebounds for the Engineers. Wisniewski added 10 points in the effort.
Payton left everything on the court, dropping 23 total points topping all players in the game. Also leading for Framingham was Steve Vayda (Oxford, MA) who collected six points and two rebounds.
WPI hosts Fitchburg State Saturday at 2pm while Framingham State is home for the first of four home games Saturday at 1pm.
Majority of recap written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18