WORCESTER – Sophomore Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) notched his second consecutive double-double and junior Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) paced all student-athletes with a career-high 19 points as the WPI men's basketball team closed out an 86-71 triumph over visiting Husson Sunday afternoon in Harrington Auditorium.
The Engineers (9-0), who are receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25 and one of 14 teams remaining in the division without a loss, remain perfect ahead of their trip to the Tampa Bay Shootout. Husson, meanwhile, slips to 6-3 heading into their two games at the D3hoops.com Classic.
Trailing 66-60 with 7:56 to play, WPI capitalized on a number of free throws, as well as, a jumper by Stephenson to regain the lead nearly a minute and a half later following a pair of freebies by sophomore Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT). The advantage was short lived when sophomore Justin Thompson (East Millinocket, ME) canned a jumper with 6:09 on the scoreboard; however, sophomore Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) answered with a 3-pointer for the final lead change of the afternoon with just over five minutes to play.
Husson took its first lead (51-50) with 12:16 remaining thanks to a layup by senior Kyanti Blyden (Miramar, FL). From there, the lead changed hands seven more times and the score was tied on four occasions. After falling behind by six, the Crimson and Gray scored 26 of the game's final 31 points for the 86-71 triumph.
WPI held a trio of 12-point leads in the first 20 minutes, including a 36-24 margin at the intermission. The Eagles were able to cut the deficit to five with a layup by Thompson, a traditional 3-point play by senior Justin Martin (Winslow, ME) and a jumper by freshman Justice Kendall (Baltimore, MD) midway through the first half.
Stephenson logged 18 points and 11 rebounds as all five starters registered double digit scoring. In addition to Wisniewski and Stephenson, sophomore Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) added 15, Downing, who also hauled in a career-best nine boards, finished with 14 and Wheeler chipped in with 12 – all 3-pointers. Sophomore Jake Needleman (Morganville, NJ) contributed with six points in 22 minutes off the bench and freshman John Wessel (New Oxford, PA) accounted for a quartet of rebounds.
Martin handed in 13 points and 13 rebounds for Husson. Thompson led the Eagles with 18 points, to go with seven boards, as he and Blyden totaled 28 of the team's 30 bench points. Kendall also had 10 points for the visitors.
WPI takes on Maryville (TN) in the 7pm semifinal on Saturday, December 29 while Husson tangles with North Central (IL) at 7pm eastern on Thursday, December 27.