Lewiston, ME --- The WPI men's basketball team returned to action after nearly three weeks off and defeated host Bates 58-51 Tuesday evening in Alumni Gymnasium. The No. 14 Engineers moved to 9-1 with their second straight victory while the Bobcats dropped its third consecutive game in a matchup of two NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago.
Bates (4-5) has another stiff challenge ahead on Thursday, hosting No. 24 Babson at 1pm on the final day of 2015. WPI next plays Jan. 2 at undefeated Eastern Nazarene (3pm).
Clyde Niba (Atlanta, GA) made 4-of-5 3-pointer attempts in the first half, keeping the Engineers right in the game at a halftime deficit of 31-30. Niba finished with a game-high 20 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) pitched in 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
Shooting troubles hurt the Bobcats, who shot 1-of-11 on 3-pointers in the second half, finishing 4-of-18 (.222) for the game and 22-for-55 (.400) from the field. Bates scored only three points from the free-throw line on six attempts (two misses were the front end of one-and-ones). WPI was 12-22 (.545) at the line and 20-54 from the field (.370) in the game, but made 6-of-14 3-pointers (.429), in what was likely the most significant statistical difference between the teams.
Mike Boornazian (Portland, CT) led Bates with 15 points and three assists, while Mike Newton(Chapel Hill, NC) posted 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds and three steals.
Bates led 14-5 within the first seven minutes, benefiting from eight Boornazian points including two threes, one from NBA distance to beat the shot clock. A 3-pointer by Quin Leary (Auburn, ME) just past the halfway mark of the period gave Bates a game-high 10-point lead at 17-7. But Niba drilled three 3-pointers in a row, all from well above the circle, for a personal 9-0 run, bringing the Engineers to within a point (17-16) just 70 seconds after Leary's three. A late 6-2 Bates run, featuring layups by Nick Lynch (Westford, CT), Newton and Jerome Darling (Hartford, CT), gave Bates a 31-26 lead, but Aaron Todd (York, ME) and James Loring (Norton, MA) finished out the half with WPI buckets to draw within 31-30 at intermission.
Bates led 43-41 after a Newton jumper with 9:49 left in the game, but the Engineers took the lead for good with an 8-0 run, including hoops by Niba and Doncaster as well as three free throws by Obi Obiora (Boston, MA).
Bates fought back within two, when Justin Zukowski (Portland, ME) fed Boornazian for a three to make it 50-48 with 3:55 left, but Niba had two offensive putbacks sandwiching a pair of free throws by Ian Converse for a 56-49 advantage with 1:04 to go. Bates then turned the ball over and a one-on-one move by Doncaster for a layup with 20.2 seconds remaining iced the win for WPI.
Boornazian moved into the top 20 on Bates' list of all-time scorers, with 1,150 points, stepping ahead of Mike Marsh '97 (1,148) as well as Keith Ferdinando '93 (1,140). Over his last three games, Newton has produced three of the four highest-scoring games of his career and recorded three of his best six rebounding games ever, including his best two. Newton has also shot 15-for-24 (.625) from the floor in that stretch, and averaged 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
Release Courtesy Bates Sports Information