March 6, 2009

Courtesy of WPI

Worcester, MA --- Jerome Kirkland (Boston, MA) drained 13 of his game-high 15 points in the first half, leading WPI to a 86-57 victory over Husson in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday evening at Harrington Auditorium. The win moves the Engineers into the tournament's second round, where they will take on either Baruch or UMass Dartmouth on Saturday at 7pm.

WPI never trailed in the game, improving to 21-5 on the season. The win is WPI's first NCAA tournament win since a 79-62 victory over Bridgewater State in the first round of the 2006 tournament. Husson sees its season come to a close with a 16-12 record.

Both teams came out of the locker room playing at a fast pace in the first half, with WPI scoring the first four points of the game en route to an early 7-2 advantage.  Following a three-pointer by Brock Bradford (Kenduskeag, ME) to cut the lead to 7-5, the Engineers would score the next seven points of the game to take charge of the contest. WPI pushed the lead to double digits for the first time on a Kirkland jumper with 12:26 left in the half, making the score 20-10. Husson would do their best to stay within striking distance, still trailing by ten at 30-20 with 6:32 to play, but the Engineers would go on a 12-4 run to close out the frame with their largest lead of the half, 42-24 heading into the locker room.

WPI came out of the locker room hot in the second half , scoring the first seven points. The Eagles responded however, dropping in the next ten points of the game to cut the WPI lead to 15 five minutes into the second half. The Crimson and Gray answered with an 11-2 run, culminated by a Fernando Perez (Lowell, MA) hook shot on the baseline with 11:16 to go that gave WPI a 25-point advantage, 60-35. Perez posted the game's only double-double in his first NCAA Tournament contest, registering 14 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.

The Engineers would build upon their lead in the final minutes, closing out the 29-point win.

WPI converted 22 Husson turnovers into 21 points, and used a 48-34 rebounding advantage to gain a 24-5 edge in second-chance points, keying the victory.

Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, CT) and Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) were also in double figures for WPI, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively.  Robinson added seven boards. Ben Etten (Hollis, NH) added eight points and seven rebounds, while Kyle Nadeau (Webster, MA) chipped in with eight second-half points for the victors. Twelve Engineers dented the scoring sheet on the night.

Scott Kissinger (Islip Terrace, NY) led Husson with 10 points, while Matt McKenzie (Warren, ME) added nine points and four rebounds. Bradford and Nick Perras (Lancaster, NH) each dropped in eight points for the Eagles, and Jay Urhin (Winterport, ME) paced Husson with six rebounds to go along with his five points.

WPI moves on to the NCAA Tournament's second round game tomorrow evening at 7pm, when they will face the winner of Friday's nightcap contest between UMass Dartmouth and Baruch.

Story written by Ray Cotrufo ’98 - WPI Athletics Department