WORCESTER -- Ethan Harrell (Wexford, PA) erupted for a career-high 26 points and WPI doled out 19 assists on 27 baskets as the Engineers defeated Springfield 79-66 in NEWMAC men's basketball matchup played in Harrington Auditorium on Wednesday evening.
WPI, winners of five straight, improves to 14-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play. Springfield slips to 6-12 on the season and 3-4 in NEWMAC contests.
Springfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead following a Jake Ross (Northampton, MA) jumper and a 3-pointer by Trey Witter (Unionville, CT) but the Engineers quickly countered with a 16-2 spurt and never trailed the rest of the way. Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) and Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) spearheaded the run with seven points apiece to account for 14 of the 16 points. The duo combined for 19 points on the opening 20 minutes to help give the Crimson and Gray a 39-31 edge at halftime.
The second half belonged to Harrell as the sophomore tallied 21 of his 26 points after intermission to easily eclipse his previous career high of 15 points set back on the Thursday before Thanksgiving against Worcester State. After connecting on 1-of-3 shots in the first half, Harrell was a man possessed in the second stanza, draining 9-of-12 attempts from the field, including 4-of-6 from downtown.
McNamara hit a pair of free throws 1:13 into the second half that took the lead into double digits, where it would remain the rest of the way. After falling behind by 23 points at 71-48 with 7:38 to go on a layup by Walker, Springfield rattled off 11 straight points to get within 12 with 3:45 remaining. However, a pair of Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) free throws and a 3-pointer by Harrell pushed the advantage back to 16 and effectively ended the comeback hopes of the visitors.
Joining Harrell in double figures in scoring for the Engineers were Walker (16), McNamara (13) and Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) (13). Wisniewski led the WPI assist parade with five helpers while Downing handed out four and McNamara and Walker had three each. Walker helped WPI enjoy a 36-27 edge in the rebounding column with a team-best eight rebounds to go along with a game-high three steals.
Witter paced the Pride with 25 points as he made 10-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, while Ross added 11 points, nine boards, and five assists on the night as Springfield. The Pride shot 24-of-53 (45%) but committed 16 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.
Both teams open up the second half of NEWMAC play on Saturday at 3pm. WPI is at Wheaton while Springfield entertains Clark.
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