WORCESTER – Sophomore Lou Doherty (Arlington, MA) scored a career-high 11 points in nine minutes off the bench in the first half while senior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) and sophomore Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) totaled 33 points on the night as WPI held off upset-minded Clark, 82-74, in a NEWMAC Men's Basketball game that aired live on CharterTV3 from the venerable Kneller Athletic Center.
The Engineers, who have now bested their city and conference foes (3-17, 0-9) 16 consecutive times, improve to 12-8 overall and 6-3 in league play.
The game was tightly contested with six lead changes and a pair of ties while neither team led by a bunch until Doherty canned a 3-pointer at 11:52 to begin an Engineer 17-3 run that resulted in a 30-19 lead, and a Clark timeout, with 7:09 left in the first.
WPI continued widen the margin before junior Adam Converse (Woodstock, CT) and freshman Tyler Davern (Webster, MA) scored on consecutive possessions to make it a 15-point game at 5:16. The combination of Converse and freshman Biko Gayman (Fort Pierce, FL) each hit a layup with less than a minute until the break to get the hosts within 11.
Clark freshman Anthony Grzembski (Webster, MA) drained a long 3-pointer at 16:43 to cut the deficit to nine; however Engineer rookie Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) countered with a triple of his own forcing another Cougar timeout. It then remained a double digit contest until Gayman fed Converse for an open jumper at 14:20. Senior John Pisacreta (Andover, MA) and Gayman each converted a traditional three-point play to get Clark within four. Two more by Gayman made it a 58-56 game with 12:26 to play.
Wisniewski then pushed the advantage back to seven with a hoop and a harm at 11:55, and eventually, followed up with a layup at 11:03. Clark was as close as three with 8:59 on the scoreboard only to see WPI go back up by a dozen. Grzembski cut the guests advantage to seven with another long triple at 2:38. Rodgers all but iced the game with a jumper with seconds left on the shot clock in the final minute. Needleman knocked down a pair of freebies before and after Grzembski nailed yet another three with 13.1 on the board.
Rodgers posted 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Wisniewski, who met with TV3's Kevin Shea following the game, followed with 16 points. In addition to Doherty, freshman Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) handed in 11 points while also leading the team with nine caroms. All 10 Engineers that checked into the game scored at least two in the effort.
Gayman (7 assists) notched a game-best 23 points as Grzembski added 15 and Converse contributed with 14. Davern (12pts, 8reb) and Pisacreta (10) accounted for the other Clark producers – all starters.
WPI had a 10-3 lead in second chance points while both sides scored 18 off turnovers and 38 in the paint.
The Engineers host Coast Guard Saturday at 1pm while the Cougars travel to Babson for a 3pm contest.