Worcester, Mass. - Behind a high-powered
offense that shot nearly 54 percent in the first half and the first
career double-double from sophomore Mitch
Renshaw (Rutland, Mass.), Clark cruised to a
season-opening 92-70 win over visiting Fitchburg State on Monday
night at the Kneller Athletic Center.
The win for the Cougars avenges last year's season opening loss to the Falcons by nearly the same score - 90-70 back on November 15, 2008.
Clark raced out to a 22-7 lead in part because of the inside dominance of Renshaw and classmate Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.) and ice cold shooting by Fitchburg. The Falcons struggled out of the gate missing 17 of its first 19 shot attempts and committing five turnovers in the first ten minutes.
The Cougar advantage grew to as many as 20 in the waning moments of the first half as Vayda nearly outscored FSC in the opening 20 minutes (26-19) and Clark went into intermission ahead 44-26.
Things stayed pretty much the same in the second half as the Cougars went ahead by as many as 24 following a steal and breakaway dunk by Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.).
The Falcons mounted a comeback going on a 10-2 run over a span of 2:20 to trim Clark's lead to 11 at 70-59.
The Cougars had an answer via the three-pointer, however, as senior Jack Minister (Manchester, England) nailed two triples and classmate Chris LoPiano (Franklin Square, N.Y.) added another to push the lead back to 79-63.
Clark sealed the deal with about five minutes remaining when Renshaw threw down a thunderous two-hand dunk and Alexander followed with a triple of his own to give Clark an 84-64 lead.
The Scarlet and White shot 49 percent from floor for the contest, while Fitchburg, which only shot 29 percent in the first half, connected on 41 percent of their attempts.
Vayda led a quartet of Cougars in double figures with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Renshaw posted career-bests of 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Alexander stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, four steals, three rebounds and three assists. LoPiano was the other Cougar in double figures with ten.
Fitchburg (0-1) was paced by Colin London (Worcester, Mass.) who had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Clark (1-0) returns to action on Wednesday when they visit Rhode Island College beginning at 7 p.m. while the Falcons travel to the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Classic on Friday where they will face Bowdoin.