Sophomores Shine as Men’s Basketball Holds Off NEWMAC Foe Coast Guard

Kahleb Downing

WORCESTER – Sophomores Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT), Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) and Ethan Harrell (Wexford, PA) teamed up to score 30 bench points as host WPI held off Coast Guard, 71-68, in a NEWMAC men's basketball matchup Saturday afternoon inside Harrington Auditorium.

The Engineers, who honored the program's teams that made an appearance in the NCAA tournament, moved to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in conference contests. The Bears, meanwhile, ends the day 9-5 and 0-4.

Downing led the reserves with 12 points and seven rebounds while Wheeler added 11 points and Harrell chipped in with seven. Sophomore Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) paced the Engineers with 16 points to go with five boards. Sophomore Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) posted 10 points, followed by junior Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) with eight points and seven rebounds. Freshman Logan O'Donnell (Fishkill, NY) and sophomore Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) accounted for seven points on the day.

Junior Noah Baldez (Lower Gwynedd, PA) led all players with 20 points as junior Packy Witkowski (Melrose, MA) and senior Nolan Benson (Lexington, NC) totaled 29 for the Bears. Benson also guided the guests with eight rebounds.

After Harrell and Walker hit back-to-back threes to make it a 14-6 game, Benson bookended a 6-0 run to cut the Bears defict to a pair with 12:15 left in the first. The Engineers later claimed an eight-point margin but went silent for just over five minutes. The drought enabled Coast Guard to use a 13-0 run to stake a five-point advantage with 2:25 remaining in the first half.

The second half featured five lead changes and a trio of ties. With 6:16 remaining, Downing quickly broke a 60-60 tie with a layup. Wheeler followed with a jumper only to see junior Jason Frazer (West Haven, CT) make it a one-point game as 5:13 showed on the scoreboard. A bucket by McNamara and a triple by Walker gave the Engineers a 69-63 cushion. Not going away easily, Witkowski drained a three to go with a layup by Benson; however, McNamara hit two free throws with 9.3 seconds to go, forcing the Bears to take a three in an attempt to send the game into overtime. After a series of timeouts, the Bears bid was slightly off the mark.

WPI concludes a three-game homestand Wednesday at 8pm versus Emerson while Coast Guard returns to the city for a 7pm appointment at Clark.

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