Wheaton Honors Seniors; Fall Short in Second Half Comeback Against WPI

Wheaton Honors Seniors; Fall Short in Second Half Comeback Against WPI

NORTON, Mass. - The Wheaton College men's basketball team fell short in its second half comeback attempt against the Engineers of WPI on Wednesday night in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action. The Lyons, who trailed by 23 at halftime, outscored the Engineers in the second half but would ultimately fall 79-67. 

The Lyons are still alive in the NEWMAC play-off picture despite tonight's loss. The Lyons are still tied for fifth with the Clark University Cougars with a 5-8 conference standing. If both teams win or lose on Saturday, the Lyons would make the NEWMAC tournament due to the head-to-head that saw Wheaton sweep Clark this season. If the Lyons were to lose and the Cougars were to win, the Cougars would earn the final spot in the tournament and the Lyons season would come to an end. 

Prior to the start of the contest the Lyons honored their six graduating seniors, Ben Christopher, Quinton Dale, Alex Sugarman, Zach Parsons, Timothy Berry and team manager Zhao (Nancy) Li. 

Dale ended his regular season career in Emerson Gymnasium with his 12th double-double of the season. The senior knocked down a team-high 16 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. David Carbonello was the only other player to finish in double-figures for Wheaton, netting 10 points off the bench. Berry finished the night with nine points, while Parsons collected seven boards.

Ian Converse paced the Engineers with a game-high 24 points, while Chris Rodgers and Jake Wisniewski each knocked down 13 points and James Loring chipped in 11. Rodgers was the only other player to finish with a double-double, collecting 10 boards to go with his 13 points. 

Berry opened the night in style, hitting a three just seconds into the contest to give Wheaton the early lead. Parsons followed suit moments later with a quick layup to extend the Lyons lead to 5-3 with 18:51 on the clock. WPI countered with a three-pointer from Rodgers just to have it answered with another Parsons layup. Dale and Christopher pushed the Lyon advantage to 12-11 with 16:39 to go. 

Converse responded with two good free-throws, handing the lead back to WPI and sparking a 9-2 run by the Engineers that made it a 22-14 game with 11:34 to go until intermission. Converse handed the Engineers their first double-digit lead of the game with a layup four minutes later and once again sparking a WPI run. This time the Engineers went on an 8-1 run to push their advantage to 37-20 with 3:58 to go. Nick Geremia broke the Lyons scoring drought with a jumper with help from Ryan Fogarty. The basket was a little to late as WPI continued to dictate the pace, capturing a 48-25 lead as both teams headed to the locker room. 

Despite several scoring chances to start the second, it took a minute and a half for either side to make a basket, with Connor Willgress draining one of two free-throws for the Engineers. Back-to-back three-pointers from Carbonello and Duaka Ekwensi cut the Lyon deficit to the teens, making it a 56-40 game with 14:15 to go. Wheaton continued to pressure WPI, eventually making it a 10 point, 59-49, contest four minutes later. The Engineers maintained a double-digit advantage until a three-pointer from Berry made it a 72-63 game with a little over a minute remaining. The Lyons did all they could do in the final minute to complete the comeback but were unable to stop the Engineers at the free-throw line.  

Wheaton returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 18 for its final regular season contest. The Lyons will travel to Suffolk University to take on Emerson College for a 6 p.m. tip. The game was moved to Suffolk due to a flood in Emerson's gym. 

For the latest on Wheaton College Athletics, follow the Lyons via social media on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Snapchat and YouTube.