Rodgers and Wisniewski’s 37 Not Enough to Tame Springfield in Men’s Basketball Clash

Kahleb Downing

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WORCESTER -- After a strong WPI first half, Springfield's Jake Ross (Northampton, MA) lit it up from the field, outpacing all scorers and feeding his team as the Pride exited Harrington Auditorium with the 81-74 NEWMAC Men's Basketball win Wednesday night.

The Engineers slip to 14-10 on the season and 8-5 in conference play while Springfield, who is slotted No. 6 in today's NCAA Regional Rankings, improves to 17-7 overall with an 11-2 record in NEWMAC play.

WPI came out of the gates strong with another blistering steal and dunk, this time from Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) for the first score of the game. The Pride's Heath Post (Cheshire, CT) recovered quickly from his turnover to drain a three for the only lead the visitors would hold for the period. From there, the Engineers dominated, shooting 15-for-23, expediting an 18 point lead with 5:56 remaining in the half. Through this assault, the Boynton Hillers held a 7-0 advantage in second chance baskets and an 18-10 lead in the paint.

True to their namesake, Springfield battled back with pride as Ross, connected on shot after shot, tallying 17 points in the first 20 minutes of play. This helped to cut the home lead down to as little as eight before Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) and Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) hit consecutive trifectas to eventually head into the locker room with an 11 point advantage.

Coming out of the break, it was like a different ball game. The Engineers' shooting percentage from the first evaporated, going 2-of-15 from the field to start the second half with three turnovers. Meanwhile Springfield spread the ball efficiently, scoring 18 of their points in the half off of assists including a pair of dimes to dunks from the coalition of Kevin Durkin (Worcester, MA) and Andy McNulty (West Springfield, MA) who totaled five assists on the night.

Junior Cam Earle (South Hadley, MA) seemed to be the missing key in the first for the Pride as he was perfect from the field in the second half, scoring four three point attempts and notching his lone free throw attempt to score a conventional four point play. As play came to a close, WPI was forced to foul to get the ball back until Kahleb Downing (Middleton, CT) made a heads up play to grab a steal off of a Springfield inbound pass and drain the three ball to bring the game to within five. While this made for an exciting finish, the Engineers ultimately fell short as the Pride were excellent from the foul line and closed out the win, 81-74.

Ross led all scorers in the game with 28 points and collected eight boards while dishing out five assists to his teammates. Post followed with 22 points and seven rebounds with a block on the night. Earle chipped in with 13 second half points and also grabbed three off the glass and McNulty reached double figures with 10 points and five assists.

Rodgers and Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) just missed a double double each with 21 and 16 points respectively, and nine rebounds apiece. They each also passed out a trio of assists. Needleman contributed in his start with eight points and three assists as well and Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) chipped in with seven points.

Rodgers, and fellow seniors Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT), Aaron Todd (York, ME) and Shane Farley (Burlington, MA) were recognized for their contributions to the men's basketball program.

WPI looks to get back on track at MIT, this Saturday at 1pm and Springfield hosts Babson at the same time on Saturday.  

Story written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18