First Round – Wednesday, Feb. 29
Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 3 at WPI (Harrington Auditorium, Worcester, Mass.)
Championship – Sunday, Mar. 4 at WPI (Harrington Auditorium, Worcester, Mass.)
(Story Courtesy of WPI Sports Information)
Worcester, MA --- Jaime Shannon (Lowell, MA) scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half to lead WPI to the ECAC Division III New England Championship with a 87-66 win over Salve Regina on Saturday at the Harrington Auditorium.
With the victory, WPI (20-7) has reached the 20-win plateau for nine consecutive seasons, the second longest such streak in the country behind only Wooster of Ohio who has 16. Salve Regina concludes its campaign with a 21-10 mark.
In a first half of runs, WPI jumped out to 10-2 lead in the opening minutes, as the veteran Engineers broke down the Seahawks' full-court press. Four different players scored WPI's first four field goals. Salve Regina would answer with a 10-0 rally, capped off by drive to the hoop for a layup by William Smiley (Saunderstown, RI). The Crimson and Gray responded in kind, going up 20-15 on a jumper by Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, MA) with 10:13 remaining in the half. The Seahawks repeatedly cut the lead to one only to watch the Engineers reel off 14 straight points to take a 40-23 lead on a Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) 3-pointer with 2:50 left in the period. WPI held Salve Regina scoreless for nearly five minutes during that stretch. Scott St. Lawrence (Litchfield, NH) hit a jumper as the horn sounded for the Seahawks, but the teams still went into halftime with WPI leading 43-28. Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) led all scorers in the opening half with 15 points for WPI, making six of his eight shots from the floor.
The Engineers looked to deliver the knockout punch as the second half got underway, scoring the first seven points of the period with five of those coming from Shannon. WPI would lead by as much as 27 when Shannon hit a jumper with 13:20 remaining in the game, putting the Crimson and Gray up 64-37. Salve Regina attempted to make a game of it late, using a 9-0 run capped off by a Patrick Dinneen (Medfield, MA) jumper to cut the lead to 16 with 6:01 left on the clock. But it was too little, too late as WPI looked to Shannon for the answer as the senior hit a 3-pointer to slow the Seahawk momentum, putting the game out of reach. With 1:12 seconds left, both teams subbed for their graduating seniors, drawing applause from an appreciative crowd.
Playing in the final game of their collegiate careers before a home crowd that had watched them grow as a team for four seasons, the senior trio of Shannon, Carr and David Brown (Lowell, MA) gave the WPI community one final moment of glory. Shannon was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, averaging 19 points on 55.6 percent shooting in two games. Carr matched Shannon's 21 points, hitting nine of thirteen shots with seven rebounds and four blocks. Brown contributed 12 points while dishing out four assists. Kolb finished with 11 points, a game-high nine rebounds and four assists. Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) added nine points with three steals. The Engineers made 7-of-15 of their shots behind the arc while shooting 60.3 percent as a team.
Smiley came off the bench to lead Salve Regina with 20 points, six rebounds and two steals, while shooting 8-of-12 from the field. Smiley scored 16 of his points in the second period, attempting to rally the Seahawks. Dinneen finished with 18 points with two steals. Jeff Bielefeld (Littleton, MA) had a team-high eight rebounds while Isiah Pringle (Queens, NY) added seven points with four steals. Ryan Birrell (Scituate, RI) had eight points.
Story by Michael Rupp