Worcester, Mass. - Kyle Nadeau's eight-foot
leaner with 1.5 seconds remaining gave host WPI a dramatic 75-73
victory over cross-town rival Clark Saturday afternoon in the
regular season finale for both squads.
After Clark's Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.) hit a driving lay-up to put the Cougars up 73-71 with 1:14 remaining, WPI evened the game on a Jeffrey Robinson jumper with 55.6 seconds left. After Nadeau forced a five-second call on the defensive end, WPI received possession after a jump ball following a missed shot with 10.5 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Nadeau provided the heroics when his eight-footer kissed off the glass and rolled around the rim and dropped for the game-winning points.
After a pair of timeouts Clark's desperation heave fell well short.
With the win, WPI (18-6 overall, 7-5 NEWMAC) earns the third seed in next week's NEWMAC Tournament and will host sixth-seeded Coast Guard in a quarterfinal on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Clark (13-12, 4-8) is the fifth seed and will travel to fourth-seeded Wheaton on Wednesday at a time to be announced.
Trailing by double-digits at 60-49 midway through the second half, WPI embarked on a 14-2 run over a 6:34 span to seize a 63-62 advantage with just six minutes left. During the spurt, the hosts held the Cougars without a field goal.
Robinson paced WPI with 20 points while Jerome Stewart equaled his career-high with 18. Junior Ben Etten added 11 points while Nadeau tossed in nine points and dished out four assists. Lone senior Bennett Lessard (Belgrade, ME) hauled in a game-best seven boards in a game that featured only 52 rebounds amongst both teams.
Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.) led all players with a career-best 30 points for Clark. The sophomore canned an eye-popping 13-of-17 shots from floor. Jack Minister (Manchester, England) scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, including a trio of 3-pointers. Alexander finished with 11 points and eight assists.
The first half saw both teams shoot the ball at a blistering rate. WPI connected on 70 percent of its shots from the field but trailed 38-36 at the intermission as the Cougars drained 68.2 percent of its attempts including 8-of-9 from Vayda, who finished the opening stanza with 18 points.