Boston, MA --- Tournament MVP Jack O'Connor (Newport, RI) poured in a career-high 33 points and Geoffrey Gray (Newton, MA) registered a double-double as second-seeded Emerson defeated fifth-seeded WPI 93-75 in the championship game of the 2019 NEWMAC Men's Basketball Tournament.
The victory give the Lions (16-11) their first-ever NEWMAC championship in any sport. WPI, which was appearing in its second straight NEWMAC title game and 10th overall, finishes the season with a 19-9 record after defeating fourth-seeded Babson and top-seeded and No. 7 MIT earlier this week on the road.
Emerson began the game in a sold out Brown & Plofker Gym on fire from 3-point land, drilling its first four trifectas, bookend by a pair from Trevor McLean (Boston, MA). WPI used five straight points by Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) to take its second and final lead of the game at 16-14 before the Lyons saw four different players notch baskets and rattled off nine of the next 10 points to claim the advantage for good.
The Lions saw their lead balloon to 10 points just before intermission but a hard-earned McNamara floater in the lane just before the buzzer cut deficit to eight at 43-35 heading in the locker room.
After the break, the Emerson offense continued to shine. After shooting 50% (16-of-32) in the opening 20 minutes, the Lions shot ever better in the second stanza connecting on 14-of-25 (56.0%) from the floor. The hosts were particularly effective from the free throw line, shooting 26-of-28 (92.3%) from the charity stripe, including draining their 18 attempts.
O'Connor paced all scorers on 11-of-17 shooting, including a 3-of-4 effort beyond the arc, to go along with eight rebounds, a pair of assists and two steals. Gray and Zach Waterhouse (Hampton, NH) each contributed 16 points with Gray adding a team-high 11 rebounds and six assists while McLean racked up 11 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 behind, the arc.
WPI boasted five players with double digits in score and was anchored by McNamara, who led with 16 points followed by Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) (15), Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) (13) and Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) (11). Wisniewski added nine rebounds to his stat line while Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) dished out six assists.
The Engineers, who did not have a senior and just one junior, finished shooting 45.0% (27-of-60) while converting 6-of-17 (35.3%) from the arc and 71.4% (15-of-21) from the free throw line.
Portions Courtesy Emerson Sports Information