Worcester, Mass.-- WPI held off Coast Guard, 71-68, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball matchup Saturday afternoon. The Engineers, improve to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play, while the Bears drop to 9-5 overall and 0-4 in the NEWMAC.
Junior Noah Baldez led all players with 20 points, going 8-13 from the field, 1-1 from three point range, and 3-3 from the free-throw line. Junior Packy Witkowski and senior Nolan Benson totaled 29 for the Bears. Benson also added eight rebounds.
Sophomores Kahleb Downing, Dakota Wheeler and Ethan Harrell teamed up to score 30 bench points. Downing led the WPI reserves with 12 points and seven rebounds while Wheeler added 11 points and Harrell chipped in with seven. Sophomore Reid Walker paced the Engineers with 16 points to go with five boards.
After Harrell and Walker hit back-to-back threes to make it a 14-6 game, Benson bookended a 6-0 run to cut the Bears deficit to a pair with 12:15 left in the first. The Engineers later claimed an eight-point margin but went silent for just over five minutes. The drought enabled Coast Guard to use a 13-0 run to stake a five-point advantage with 2:25 remaining in the first half.
The second half featured five lead changes and a trio of ties. With 6:16 remaining, Downing quickly broke a 60-60 tie with a layup. Wheeler followed with a jumper only to see junior Jason Frazer (West Haven, CT) make it a one-point game as 5:13 showed on the scoreboard. A bucket by McNamara and a triple by Walker gave the Engineers a 69-63 cushion. Not going away easily, Witkowski drained a three to go with a layup by Benson; however, McNamara hit two free throws with 9.3 seconds to go, forcing the Bears to take a three in an attempt to send the game into overtime. However, WPI held on to keep the 71-68 advantage for the final.
Coast Guard shot 40.3% (25-62) from the field, while WPI was 45.6% (26-57). Both teams were relatively even from behind the arc, Coast Guard was 36.4% and WPI was 36.8% and both teams brought down 34 rebounds.
Coast Guard will travel to Clark University on Wednesday, January 16 at 7:00 PM.