Worcester, MA --- Zach Karalis paced all players with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, to lift WPI to a 56-45 victory over visiting Coast Guard in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball contest played on Saturday afternoon in Harrington Auditorium.
WPI, 12th in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 and sixth in the initial NCAA Division III New England rankings, is now 20-3 on the season and 10-2 in the conference. It marks the 11th consecutive year the Engineers have reached the 20-win mark, the second longest current streak in Division III (over 400 teams) behind Wooster (OH), who looks to accomplish the feat for the 17th straight season tonight. Coast Guard dips to 5-18 overall and 2-10 in NEWMAC play.
Coast Guard sophomore Kevin Alvarez opened the game with a 3-pointer as the Bears scored the first seven points. Alvarez was the visitors' high scorer, totaling 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bears held an edge through the opening 16:31, with Domenick Mastascusa hitting four straight free throws to level it at 7-7 for roughly a minute 6:26 in. Mastascusa followed behind Karalis as WPI's only other double-digit scorer, racking up 15 on the game, including nine in the second half.
The Bears responded to Mastascusa with eight straight points, getting four from junior David Anderson, who made it 15-7 Coast Guard 10 minutes in. The Bears held control for three more minutes before another WPI rally.
Karalis scored all 13 of his first half points in the final 9:13 before the intermission, converting on an old-fashioned 3-point play 6:34 out of the break to turn the tide toward the Engineers after having trailed by seven, 19-12.
WPI grabbed a quick four-point swing over the span of 11 seconds as Sam Longwell rose up for a jumper and Matt Harrington followed with a steal, feeding freshman Michael Maroney for the transition hoop to tie it at 24-24 with 3:45 left in the first half.
Maroney and Longwell each totaled eight points, tying for third-most on the team. Longwell also contributed seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Karalis and Maroney combined for the final nine points of a 11-0 run, with both sinking foul shots before Karalis made it 31-24 WPI two minutes from halftime.
The home side took a 33-27 lead into the break. WPI capitalized on 12 first half turnover by Coast Guard, scoring 14 points off of turnovers. The Engineers struggled to protect the rim early, though, allowing 16 first half points in the paint.
A Karalis trey made it 40-33 just over four minutes out of halftime, but the improving Bears wouldn't fold, as Anderson splashed a 3 in response, followed by baskets from sophomore Ricky Rodriguez and senior Devonte Weems to tie it up at 40-40 eight minutes into the second half.
The tie was as close as the visitors would get, though, as WPI rallied with 7-0 spurt of its own as Mastascusa and Karalis both connected from beyond the arc.
Rodriguez cut it to 49-44 with 7:45 to go, but the Engineers scored seven of the final eight points and held Coast Guard without a field goal the rest of the way.
Freshman Jordan Lachowsky finished with eight points for the Bears, while Anderson had seven and Rodriguez six. All three collected four rebounds.
Coast Guard will play its home finale when they host Babson at 7:00 pm Wednesday, February 19th.