WORCESTER, Mass. – Junior Ian Converse registered his fourth double-double of the season, and career, as WPI defeated visiting Coast Guard 69-60 in a NEWMAC men's basketball matchup at Harrington Auditorium.
The Engineers, receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25, improve to 18-5 overall and 8-4 in conference play while the Bears move to 10-12 on the season and 4-8 in the loop. Coast Guard dropped one game behind Emerson for the fifth and final NEWMAC tournament spot with two games left in the season.
WPI, spearheaded by a 3-pointer and a layup by junior Sean Doncaster, opened the game with a 5-0 lead. Coast Guard responded with a pair of field goals to pull within one early in the half. Doncaster's second triple of the game, combined with another by senior Clyde Niba, helped the hosts push out to an eight-point advantage with 13:29 left until the intermission. Senior Kevin Alvarez scored consecutive baskets and senior Mark Krebs converted a conventional three-point play for the Bears who would find themselves behind by one midway through the stanza. Over the next 10-plus minutes, WPI enjoyed as much as a seven-point lead before the teams settled on three at the half (26-23) thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by sophomore Darius Adams.
Despite knocking on the door several times early in the second half, WPI finally opened up a double-digit (54-43) lead following a jumper by freshman Jamani Spencer with 5:59 to play.
Coast Guard was able to get within seven before Spencer put the Engineers in double digits once more at 4:08. An Alvarez trifecta cut the Bears deficit to nine with 1:52 remaining; however Spencer went to the line twice down the stretch and sank all four freebies. With less than a minute to play, senior Ricky Rodriguez canned both of his free throws and sophomore Micah Baldez added a layup for the 69-60 final.
Converse finished with 10 points and a career-high 20 rebounds - 10 offensive and 10 defensive. The rebound total is the most in the 15-year tenure of head coach Chris Bartley. Doncaster poured in a game-high 18 points as Spencer established his career-best with 14 on the afternoon and handed out four helpers as well. Allen added 10 points and a game-best five assists while Niba chipped in with nine points to go along with six boards. Doncaster and Aaron Davis shared team-high honors with three steals apiece while Davis also dished out three helpers.
Baldez paced the Bears with 14 points followed by sophomore Ethan Boose with 13 and Alvarez with a dozen. Adams narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and nine boards. Baldez and Adams each handed out four helpers while Baldez was also credited with four swipes.
The Engineers controlled the bench scoring 42-16 while the Bears doubled up the hosts 30-15 in the paint. The Boynton Hillers hit 90 percent of their free throws (18-20) while Coast Guard went 11-16 (68.8 percent).