Karalis and Michalski Lift WPI Past RPI in Season Opener

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Troy, NY --- Sophomore Zach Karalis (Andover, MA) equaled his career-high with 25 points to lead the ninth-ranked WPI men's basketball team to a 100-84 victory over RPI, this afternoon, in the season opener for both schools. 

It marked the 12 straight opening-day victory for WPI under head coach Chris Bartley. 

Rensselaer got out to a fast start from the floor and led, 20-10, six minutes in. A 7-0 run help the Engineers on way, highlighted by a corner three-pointer from sophomore Tyler Gendron(Merrimack, NH). A pair of free throws by classmate Chase Almond (South Kingstown, RI) pushed the hosts advantage to their largest lead of the game (24-12) with 12:11 left in the first half. 

WPI quick began chipping away at the deficit, pulling to within 26-23, on a free throw from sophomore guard Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA/Brooks School). Almond then converted on a lay-in to make it a five-point game once again, with 8:54 remaining in the stanza. 

The visitors drew even (30-30), with 8:04 of the clock, thanks to a three-point play by freshmanSean Doncaster (Medford, MA), who finished the day with 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field. 

After a second tie at, 34-34, freshman Luis Garcia (Springfield, MA) gave WPI the lead for good at the 14:25 mark of the first half, getting to the rim in transition. The hoop made it 36-34. 

The visiting Engineers continued to add to their lead as the first half wound down, finishing the half on a 9-2 run. A lay-up from junior Wil Michalski (Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury) and a triple by Karalis on back-to-back possessions, highlighted the spurt that saw WPI take a 52-40 lead into halftime. 

A three-pointer by RPI sophomore Brian Hatcher (Danbury, CT) made it a single-digit game (53-45), less than two minutes into the second, but that was as close as Rensselaer would get the rest of the day. 

Senior guard Reggie Colas (Miami, FL) netted two of his team-best 11 points with 12:09 to play, making it a 10-point game (65-55). WPI had the answer, as Karalis hit from close range at the other end of court, followed by a three from Doncaster.  

WPI's lead ballooned to 20 points on two occasions, including with 2:42 to go, on a pair of free throws by junior Matt Harrington (Shrewsbury, MA). A lay-up from Doncaster with 47 seconds remaining brought the visitors to an even 100 points.  It marks the 42nd time in program history that the Crimson and Gray have hit triple digits.

Almond and Colas each finished with 11 points to lead RPI. Five players finished in double-figures for WPI, including senior Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT/Holy Cross), who dropped in 12, to go along with nine rebounds and Michalski, who established a new career-best with 15 points off the bench.  Oddly enough it was just the second time in the last 35 years the two programs have meet on the hardwood with WPI picking up its first win in the series since 1978 and the first in Troy since World War II.

Rensselaer is back on the court tomorrow afternoon, when they visit Berkeley (NY) at 1pm. WPI is at Curry on Tuesday (7pm).

Release Courtesy RPI Sports Information