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NCAA BOUND?

Men’s basketball team hosts NEWMAC tourney Saturday for shot at NCAA championship

February 28, 2014
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After earning the NEWMAC regular season title with a hard-fought victory over city rival Clark University last weekend, the WPI men’s basketball team will host the NEWMAC Tournament and face MIT at Harrington Auditorium, 1 pm Saturday.

The winners of Saturday’s semifinal games (which also include Babson versus Springfield) will play Sunday at 1 pm for the NEWMAC Tournament Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For the ninth time in 11 years, WPI is the Number One seed as the NEWMAC regular season champion. Nationally, the Engineers are currently ranked 11 out of 420 NCAA Division III teams, with a 22-3 overall record.

“Harrington Auditorium should be rockin’ on Saturday,” says head coach Chris Bartley, who notes that the first 50 students in the Aud Squad cheering section (located across from the home team bench) will receive free T-shirts. Plus, fans in the Aud Squad will get free pizza.

“It is fun and a great way for the WPI community to come together and show school spirit,” Bartley says. “The energy the home team can receive from a boisterous and cheering group of fans can make a huge difference. Our team is proud to represent WPI, and we need the proud support of everyone in the WPI community to help us reach our goal.”

With 12 victories, WPI amassed the most wins in NEWMAC regular-season history; the conference schedule expanded from 12 to 14 games with the addition of Emerson this season.

That can only boost the team’s confidence when facing tough tournament competition, according to Rusty Eggen, associate athletic director and sports information director. He points out that two of the teams―Babson and Springfield―are ranked in the top seven in New England. In addition, MIT is just two years removed from the Division III Final Four, and Emerson, though eliminated by MIT Wednesday, had previously notched victories over Number 1 and Number 3 nationally ranked teams.

“Harrington Auditorium should be rockin’ on Saturday”

“For WPI to be the top seed and host for its ninth NEWMAC Tournament in the last 11 years is a testament to Coach Bartley, his staff, and the talented players from the last decade., says Eggen. “The NEWMAC is always among the best conferences in the country.”

The Engineers earned some additional recognition last week when forward Domenick Mastascusa was named co-Worcester Area College Basketball Association Men’s Player of the Week.

Mastascusa posted a pair of double-doubles in leading the team to victories over Wheaton and Clark. For the week, he averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 55.6% from the floor and 87.5% from the line. He also captured the award in mid-January, which marks the fifth time a WPI men’s player has drawn top billing from the organization—teammate Sam Longwell has won three times this season.

BY MIKE D’ONOFRIO