WORCESTER -- Casey Shane (West Hartford, CT) spearheaded an important 6-0 run with a pair of baskets and Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) led all players with 17 points as WPI earned a hard-fought 70-61 victory over visiting Babson in a NEWMAC Men's Basketball contest played Wednesday evening in Harrington Auditorium.
WPI, who is slotted ninth in the initial NCAA Division III Northeast regional rankings, has now won eight of its last nine contests to move to 17-5 overall and 8-3 in conference action. Babson slips to 13-9 on the season and 6-5 in NEWMAC play.
With the score tied for the third and final time at 51-51 following an Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, CT) 3-pointer for Babson with 7:49 remaining, Shane nailed a jumper and followed with a layup to account for all four of his points on the night. The spurt was capped by a Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) layup that put the Engineers ahead 57-51 with 4:02 to go. All told, the WPI defense held the Beavers scoreless for a 4:08 stretch and without a field goal for a span of 4:45.
Babson got back to with three points twice, the last of which at 61-58 with 2:31 remaining but a Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and a jumper and four free throws in the final 1:14 by Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) iced the game for the Boynton Hillers.
Early in the game, the Engineers went ahead by 10 following a bucket by WACBA Rookie of the Week Logan O'Donnell (Fishkill, NY) with 7:41 left in the first half. The hosts went on to lead by 16 thanks to a three by Needleman with 3:33 on the clock. From there, Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, MA) cued an 8-0 outburst only to see sophomore Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) knock down a three for the WPI 11-point advantage (38-27) at the break.
Babson chipped away at the margin in the first 12 minutes of the second half setting the stage for Jaworski's triple to knot the game at 51-all.
In addition to Needleman's 17 points, Walker posted 14 and Wisniewski handed in his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-best 10 rebounds. O'Donnell and Wheeler combined totaled 15 more for the home team. Downing delivered four assists to go with three each by Wisniewski and Walker, and Ethan Harrell (Wexford, PA) added three steals on the night.
Jaworski guided the Beavers with 16 points as Oftring and Jack Coolahan (Newtown, PA) each scored 11. Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, NY) also had double-digit points for the guests with 10. Oftring was a rebound shy of a double-double while Shyheim Ulrickson (Topsham, ME) handed out six assists.
Both teams hit the road for 1pm NEWMAC matchups on Saturday as WPI is at Emerson and Babson is at Wheaton.