Worcester, Mass. - Sparked by a second-half
scoring outburst from junior Anthony Coppola (Watertown, Mass.),
visiting Wheaton College erased a 15-point first half deficit and
grabbed a key 74-69 win over host Clark in New England Women's and
Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball action on Wednesday
evening at the Kneller Athletic Center.
Coppola scored 16 of his team-high total in the second half, helping Wheaton outscore the Cougars 44-27 in the final 20 minutes.
Wheaton, which shot a sizzling 66 percent from the field in the second half, connected on 61 percent of their shots for the game (27-for-44), while Clark, who opened the game making 52 percent of their attempts in the first 20 minutes, made just 37 percent in the final stanza.
Clark led 42-30 going into the second half but the Lyons slowly chipped away until they took the lead courtesy of an 18-2 run that gave them their first lead at 62-59, following a two-handed dunk from freshman Cliften Desravines (Somerville, Mass.).
The Cougars never had the lead again, as Coppola closed the game scoring the Lyons' final ten points.
Clark built their lead with excellent interior scoring from sophomore Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.), who scored six of his seven points in the first five minutes of the game.
The score stood at 35-26 in favor of the Cougars late in the first half when Clark ran off seven straight capped by a Chris LoPiano (Franklin Square, N.Y.) triple.
Wheaton was able to steal momentum going into the half however, as Ben Stehle (Newton, Mass.) dropped in a three-pointer in the waning seconds to close the gap heading into intermission.
Clark was paced by Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.) and his game-high 24 points, three rebounds and four assists. LoPiano was the only other Cougar in double figures, registering 10 points in 23 minutes of action.
In addition to Coppola, Brendan Degnan (Narragansett, R.I.) added 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Lyons also got solid interior production from Desravines (nine points, five rebounds) and Stehle (seven points, five rebounds), helping them outscore Clark 36-28 in the paint.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Lyons, who improve to 7-13 and 3-5 in league play, while the Cougars dip to 11-9 and 2-5 in NEWMAC play.
Wheaton returns to the hardwood on Saturday when they visit WPI at 1:00 p.m., while Clark looks to get back in the win column with a 3:00 p.m. Saturday tilt at Coast Guard.