Downing’s Second Half Surge Sends Men’s Basketball Past Clark for Seventh Consecutive Win

Drew Plante

WORCESTER – Sophomore Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) netted 17 of his career-high 19 points in the second half as the WPI men's basketball team defeated crosstown and NEWMAC foe Clark, 79-55, Wednesday night in Harrington Auditorium.

With the win, the Engineers (16-4, 7-2) collect their seventh consecutive victory while the Cougars dip to 5-15 and 1-8.

Downing also totaled six assists and four steals while sophomore Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) added 16 points, and junior Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) finished with 12. Sophomores Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) and Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) chipped in with nine apiece. Classmate Ethan Harrell (Wexford, PA) hauled in a game-best eight rebounds.

Clark sophomores Anthony Grzembski (Webster, MA) and Tyler Davern (Webster, MA) each registered 14 points to go with 10 from freshman Alex Nazaire (Ellicott City, MD), who led the Cougars with six rebounds. Grzembski also contributed with four helpers.

It took nearly three minutes before a team got on the scoreboard as Clark senior Adam Converse (Woodstock, CT) broke the ice at 17:01. Sophomore Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) answered for WPI 22 seconds later. From there, Grzembski bookended a personal 8-2 run with a pair of triples. With 13:44 left in the half, McNamara used a personal 4-0 run to spark an 11-0 outburst for the Engineers. After Wisniewski canned a pair of freebies, Davern converted a traditional three-point play to halt the surge. Later in the frame, Wheeler used a 3-pointer to give the hosts an eight-point advantage (25-17) with 5:22 left until the break. Clark then used an 8-0 squall to tie the game at 25 with 3:38 on the clock. Needleman hit the front end of a pair of free throws down the stretch to send WPI into the cloakroom with a 32-27 advantage.

The second half began with a WPI 7-1 outburst which was capped by a three by McNamara for the first double-digit margin of the contest at 17:28 (39-28). Grzembski cut the deficit to single digits twice, and Davern once, but a pair of Downing free throws with 8:34 to go put WPI back above 10 for the remainder of the night. The cushion extended to 24 behind a triple by freshman Drew Plante (Swansea, MA) with less than two minutes to play.

WPI travels to Coast Guard and Clark hosts Babson Saturday at 1pm.

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