WORCESTER -- Junior forward Reid Walker (Tampa, FL) nearly notched his first career triple-double on Saturday afternoon at Harrington Auditorium, amassing 21 points, tying a career-high with 12 rebounds and setting a new personal best with 8 eight assists in WPI's 89-74 victory over Fitchburg State.
WPI, ranked 25th in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25, moves to 7-1 overall while the Falcons slip to 5-3 on the season.
Walker played a part in 28 of WPI's 50 first half points, scoring 12 points and collecting all eight of his assists to send the hosts to a 10-point lead at the break. He finished two assists short of WPI's first triple-double since Sam Longwell turned the trick versus Wheaton in January of 2015.
Big man Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) shot 8-for-11 from the field en route to 17 points and seven rebounds, while Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) came up just shy of a double-double with eight points and a team-high 12 boards.
Jordan Jones (Worcester, MA) led the Falcons with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The two sides traded the lead early on until Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) drained a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run that put WPI in front for good. Stephenson scored consecutive buckets to make it 21-14 midway through the first half.
Downing finished the contest with 11 points, while Wheeler and Needleman each chipped in eight off the bench as those three combined to knock down seven 3s.
The Engineers' lead grew to 45-27 after a two free throws by Wheeler with 2:29 left before the intermission, but Fitchburg State went on a 13-2 run, including six points from Xavier Betancourt (Tampa, FL), to draw it back to 50-40 at halftime. Betancourt scored 16 points overall.
The Falcons trailed by single digits 2:44 into the second half after a 3-point play by Charles Doss (Fitchburg, MA) cut it to 55-46, but WPI responded by scoring 12 of the next 13 points – six from Stephenson – to pull away for good.
The home side led by as much as 22 points, 76-54, after a layup by Reid with 7:49 remaining to stave off any idea of comeback by Fitchburg State.
WPI closes out a brief two-game home stand on Tuesday when undefeated Tufts visits Harrington Auditorium for a 7pm match-up. Fitchburg takes on a NESCAC opponent at the same time on Tuesday, venturing to Williams to face the Ephs.