Fitchburg, MA --- Jerome Stewart (Bloomfield, CT) erupted for 17 points in just 12 minutes of action to spark nationally ranked WPI to a 78-63 road win Saturday afternoon over Worcester County rival Fitchburg State. The Engineers, ranked 23rd in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25, move to 7-2 on the season while FSU dips to 3-7.
Trailing 10-9 six minutes into the contest, WPI rattled off nine straight points on a pair of Stewart baskets, a David White Jr. (Worcester, MA) layup and a Kyle Nadeau (Webster, MA) 3-point to seize a lead it would not relinquish. The Engineers took a 36-23 advantage into the locker room at the half, holding the Falcons to 26.7& (8-30) shooting from the field.
Stewart drilled 7-of-12 field goals attempts while finishing just one point shy of his career-high (Ironically against Fitchburg State last season). The junior also equaled his season-best total of six rebounds, set earlier this week in WPI's 69-54 loss to Division I Harvard.
Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, CT) led all players with 18 points for the Engineers, who saw 13 different players dent the scoring column. The Crimson and Gray proved opportunistic, parlaying 26 Falcon turnovers into 27 points.
Zach Valliere (Douglas, MA) paced the Fitchburg State attack with his third straight double-double. The junior tossed in 13 points and hauled in 14 rebounds, including 11 on the defensive glass. Stephen Verdi (Revere, MA) gave the Falcons a lift off the bench with 15 points while Jeremy Kimber(Fitchburg, MA) chipped in with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor.
The matchup marked the 250th career coaching contest for WPI coach Chris Bartley. The 10th-year head coach is now 170-80 (.680) overall while producing an eye-popping 158-42 (.790) mark the past eight seasons.
WPI is off until after Christmas. The Engineers next venture to Danbury, CT on Tuesday, December 28th to face Western Connecticut at 6pm. The two teams last met in 2005 when the Crimson and Gray defeated the Colonials in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Fitchburg State is back in action on January 4th, hosting Anna Maria at 7:30pm.