WORCESTER, Mass., February 14, 2006 - Brian Steele connected on all six of his field goal attempts, including four three-pointers, en route to registering a game-high 21 points in WPI’s hard-earned 83-76 win over visiting Springfield College on Tuesday evening. The victory secured WPI’s first outright New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular-season title under head coach Chris Bartley after sharing the crown the past two seasons.
Steele put the Engineers up for good when he drained his second of back-to-back three-pointers with 5:37 remaining to give WPI a 67-65 advantage. The Pride led throughout most of the contest, including a 10-point bulge (23-13) midway through the first half. SC took a 38-36 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Ryan Cain added 19 points for WPI while Antoine Coleman and Ryan Flynn pitched in with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Steele and Flynn highlighted a strong performance from the WPI bench, which outscored their Pride counterparts by a 48-5 margin. The Engineers received a boost from seldom-used freshman guard Adam Lirette. Lirette rattled off five-straight points during a key WPI run midway through the second half.
SC was paced by senior forward Brian Riley (Worcester, Mass.), who notched his fifth double-double in the past six games by netting 18 points and collecting 13 rebounds. Junior forward Damian Farley (Natick, Mass.) led all Pride scorers with 20 points, while senior guard Derek Yvon (East Longmeadow, Mass.), the NEWMAC’s top scorer, added 19 and senior forward Mike DeCesar (Acton, Mass.) chipped in with 11. Junior point guard Anthony Pizzo (Clifton Park, N.Y.) tied his career-high with 10 assists.
As the regular-season champions, WPI (20-3, 9-3 NEWMAC) earns a first-round bye in next week’s NEWMAC Tournament and will host the semifinals and championship games next Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 25-26). The win snapped the Engineers two-game losing streak and gives them their third consecutive 20-win season.
With the loss, SC sees its season-best five-game winning streak come to an end. The Pride (10-14, 5-6 NEWMAC) will close out the regular-season Saturday (Feb. 18) by entertaining MIT at 1:00 p.m. SC enters the final weekend of conference play tied for fourth and can earn a home game in the first-round with a win versus MIT and a Wheaton loss to Babson.