Worcester, Mass. – Crosstown rival WPI got a monster double-double from Ian Converse and the host Engineers dashed the playoff hopes for Clark University with a 75-65 win in New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
The win for WPI locks up the third seed in the upcoming league tournament and they will face No. 2 MIT next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a game hosted by top-seeded Babson.
For the Cougars, meanwhile, they see their season come to an end with five straight losses to slip to 13-12 overall and miss out on the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
In today's showdown – Engineers' 14 thin a row over the Cougars - Converse led all players in points (23) and rebounds (11) as he shot 9-for-18 from the field and also contributed four assists, two steals and two blocks. Meanwhile, fellow senior Sean Doncaster made nine of ten free throws to follow behind with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Playing in what turned out to be his final collegiate contest, Joe Atkinson (Milford, Mass.) led Clark's attack with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. John Piscareta (Andover, Mass.) chipped in 12 points and eight boards, while senior Lamar Berk (Saint Augustine, Fla.) added ten points.
Clark briefly took back the lead twice midway through the first half after three-pointers by Brendan Kittredge (Clinton, Mass.) and Matt Woods (Arlington, Mass.), but WPI's Jamani Spencer (Closter, NJ) responded for the Engineers both times. Spencer started a 9-2 spurt for the hosts with 9:25 to go in the first half and Converse capped it by converting a 3-point play 1:35 later to send WPI to a 22-17 lead and the Engineers never trailed the rest of a closely contested game. Converse knocked down a pair of free throws with 3:38 left in the opening 20 minutes to give WPI its biggest lead of the first half, 30-22, before the visitors closed the gap with an 8-2 rally led by Atkinson to narrow it to 32-30 at the break.
Connor Willigress knocked down a three, followed by a jumper from Converse to expand the lead back to 37-30 early in the second half.
Wisniewski widened the advantage to 46-37 with an old-fashioned three-point play with the layup, foul and free throw with 12:18 remaining in the game. Pisacreta got to the rim to make it a one-possession game, 46-43, midway through the second half, but the Boynton Hillers made 18 free throws the rest of the way, including nine from Doncaster to help hold off the Cougars.
Converse hit another jumper to open up the Engineers' lead to 60-47 with 5:43 to go, but Clark wouldn't go away as an Atkinson three-point play with 3:08 remaining closed it to a two-possession game, 62-56, down the stretch.
WPI promptly went on a 7-0 run, including four straight free throws by Doncaster to open the lead up to 69-56 with 1:44 left and the hosts held on from there.