WORCESTER -- The WPI men's basketball team received a game-high 21 points from Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) and never trailed in the game as the Engineers defeated Tufts University 72-62 this evening in non-conference action.
The Engineers, 22nd in the most recent D3hoops.com Top 25, have now won seven straight and ups their record to 8-1 on the season. Tufts, which is receiving votes in the D3hoops.com poll, dips to 5-1 overall.
Stephenson paced the Engineers with 21 points on 8-of-11 from the floor to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Junior Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) chipped in with 13 points and eight boards, all on the defensive glass, while Reid Walker (Tampa, FL) added 10 points.
Tufts was led offensively by 20 points and seven rebounds from Luke Rogers (Boxboro, MA), while Eric Savage (South Brunswick, NJ) finished the game with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Aronson (Holliston, MA) also recorded double figures for the Jumbos with 14 points.
A layup from Savage tied the game at 4-4 just under three minutes into the game, but WPI used a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 13-4 lead. The spurt was capped by a three from freshman John Lowther (Hingham, MA) and jumper by McNamara.
WPI extended the lead to 11 on a three by junior Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) midway through the frame. Another three from Wheeler and a free throw from Stephenson pushed the lead to 24-10 with just over eight on the clock in the first.
Tufts closed the first half outscoring WPI 19-8 over the final eight minutes cutting the deficit to seven, 36-29, at the half.
WPI pushed the lead back to double digits to start the second half, but Tufts closed the gap to nine, 43-34, on a Savage basket with 12:27 on the clock.
WPI rattled off a 12-4 run over the next four minutes taking a 55-38 lead on a McNamara trifecta.
Tufts closed the gap to 12 on a pair of occasions late in the second half including on a pair of Brennan Morris free throws with just under four on the clock that made the score 61-49. WPI pushed the lead right back to 14 after a Stephenson layup with 3:16 remaining.
Tufts closed the game to ten, 65-55, after a three from Aronson and a free throw from Rogers with 1:15 on the clock. After a Tufts foul, WPI missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Morris connected on a jumper cutting the gap to 65-57 with 59 seconds on the clock.
Tufts was forced to foul again and Stephenson sank both pushing the lead back to 10 with 44 seconds remaining.
An Aronson three pulled Tufts back within seven, but two McNamara free throws pushed the lead back to nine with 38 seconds left. WPI hit 3-of-4 from the line in the final 38 seconds to seal the victory.
Both teams return to the court on Saturday with WPI headed to New Haven to face Albertus Magnus at 5pm while Tufts begins play in the New England Big Four Challenge, squaring off with Brandeis in a noon contest at Salem State.