Courtesy of the WPI sports information department, here’s this evening’s release from the Engineers’ first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Albertus Magnus. WPI lost to Albertus Magnus, 68-66:
Purchase, NY — No. 13 ranked Albertus Magnus used a late 11-2 run to rally to defeat No. 14 ranked WPI 68-66 Friday evening in a NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament first round contest played at SUNY Purchase.
Albertus Magnus (27-2) advances to Saturday’s second round at 7pm against the winner of the host Panthers and Hartwick. WPI, who was appearing in its eighth NCAA Tournament in the last 10 years, completes its season with a 22-5 mark.
WPI went ahead 56-53 on a long 3-pointer by Matt Harrington (Shrewsbury, MA) with 5:30 left. After the two teams traded baskets, the Falcons embarked upon game-deciding spurt when James Jennings (Bridgeport, CT) canned a trifecta of his own to level the game at 58-58.
Lightning-quick point guard Eian Davis (Brooklyn, NY) responded with a free throw and a short jumper and big man Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Yorktown Heights, NY) drained a pair of buckets sandwiched around an Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) jumper for WPI, giving AMC a 65-60 edge with a minute left.
After the two teams combined for three empty possessions, Albertus Magnus nailed three free throws in the final 12 seconds to hold off a hard-charging Engineer team that connected on a pair of three-pointers in the same span, including one at the buzzer by Aaron Davis.
The first half began at a frantic pace, with Albertus Magnus canning 7-of-8 shots from the floor en route to a 10 point edge at 29-19 midway through the stanza. At that point, WPI’s defense took over and spearheaded a 15-0 run highlighted by four charges taken that helped fuel a 36-34 halftime advantage.
Eian Davis dodged foul trouble, including three before halftime to register game-highs of 22 points, six assists and two steals. Darius Watson (New Britain, CT) scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half, including drilling all four of his 3-pointers in a 4:32 span early in the game while the 6-8 Ljuljdjuraj posted 14 points and 11 rebounds en route to a double-double.
Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, MA) was outstanding for WPI, tallying a team-best 19 points, to go along with seven boards, all defensive.
Zack Karalis (North Andover, MA) contributed 14 points, including four 3-pointers and tied his career-best nine rebounds. Harrington matched his career-high with 11 points while Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) carried the mail early for the Crimson and Gray, scoring eight points before sliding over to help contain Watson in the second half. Longwell will enter his senior season in November just 3 points short of 1,000.
Senior Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) chipped in with seven points for the Engineers, who recorded assists on 18 of 24 baskets. on the night. The game marked the final contest for Kolb and classmates Chad LaBove (Shrewsbury, MA) and Drew Osei (Buffalo, NY).