Worcester, Mass. - The senior trio of Matt Carr (Somersworth, N.H.), David Brown (Lowell, Mass.) and Jaime Shannon (Lowell, Mass.) led WPI past visiting Clark, 75-54, in a NEWMAC men's basketball contest on Saturday afternoon at Harrington Auditorium.
The Engineers wrap up their regular season with an 18-6 record and an 8-4 mark in the NEWMAC standings. The Cougars see their season end with a 12-13 mark and 4-8 record in the conference.
WPI, who is ranked seventh in the latest NCAA Division III Northeast, had already locked the second seed in next week's NEWMAC Tournament and will play third-seeded Springfield in a semifinal on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at MIT. Wheaton will head to Babson Wednesday in the lone quarterfinal on Wednesday with the winner facing top-seed and host MIT at 1pm on Saturday.
The score was tied at 3-3 early on when Brown stole the ball in the backcourt, running a give-and-go fast-break with fellow senior Shannon before drawing a foul on a layup and completing the three-point play at the free throw line. The sequence helped spark the Engineers to a 9-2 run to take control of the game, a stretch capped off when Carr pulled down an offensive rebound then powered his way over the defender for the basket.
The Cougars rallied, cutting the lead to three at 16-13 when Drew Billington (Fairfield, Conn.) blew by the WPI defense for a layup with 9:25 left in the first half. The Crimson and Gray answered, outscoring the visitors 10-2 over the next six minutes to take a 26-15 advantage after a layup from Marco Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) with 3:44 remaining in the opening period. WPI led 33-19 going into halftime, keyed by its 12-0 edge in points off turnovers.
The second half would continue to see Clark attempt to build momentum, only to watch WPI make the plays needed down the stretch to remain in control. The Engineers took a 20-point lead with 13:43 left in the game after a jumper from Brown.
WPI lead by as much as 23 after Jameel Galloway (Randolph, Mass.) drew a hard foul driving to the basket and made two free throws with 12:02 remaining. Even with a large lead down the stretch, the Engineers continued to answer every time the Cougars attempted to string a run together. When Clark's John Karas (South Glastonbury, Conn.) hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 19, WPI's Sam Longwell (Acton, Mass.) responded with a jumper and Carr would follow with two free throws. With 2:42 remaining, the WPI seniors left the court to the applause of fans and teammates.
DJ Bailey (Palmer, Mass.) led Clark with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Billington finished with eight points and four rebounds. Mitch Renshaw (Rutland, Mass.) added seven points while pulling down three boards, and Karas finished with seven points.
Clark sees it season come to an end without postseason play for the second consecutive season - the first time that has happened in the NEWMAC era.