RPI men’s basketball comes back and advances

Local Sports

MEDFORD, Mass. – Sophomore Mason Memmelaar scored on a layup with 23 seconds left and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s basketball denied New England College’s game-winning attempts to overcome a 16-point, second half deficit and defeat the Pilgrims 58-57 in an NCAA Tournament First Round contest at Tufts University. The Engineers improve to 24-4 and advance to play the host Jumbos, who came back to defeat Western Connecticut State University 74-72, on Saturday at 6pm. The Pilgrims finish at 21-7.

After falling behind 40-24 four-and-a-half minutes into the second half, RPI used the next 13 minutes to pull to within a point on a Patrick Mahoney three with 3:06 to play. The Engineers took a 56-55 lead 30 seconds later on a Jonny Angbazo steal and layup with 2:31 remaining and the teams went back and forth from there.

Stephen Fama made a jump shot with 1:24 to play to answer for the Pilgrims and Rensselaer followed with a miss that New England rebounded. RPI regained possession when sophomore guard Dom Black drew an offensive foul with 39 seconds to play, setting up a missed three point attempt, an offensive rebound by Angbazo and Memmelaar’s basket from inside.

Following a timeout, Jamal Allen took a contested three point attempt from the left wing with under 10 seconds left and a tip on the rebound hit the rim before Rensselaer freshman Will Rubin secured the ball with a second remaining for the victory.

Angbazo and Memmelaar had game-high honors for Rensselaer, which shot 62.5 percent of its second half shots after a first half of 30.4 percent. Memmelaar added a team-best nine rebounds, while Angbazo pulled down seven boards with two steals and two blocked shots. Mahoney had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Engineers won the battle of the boards 43-24, including 14-9 on the offensive end.

Guard Calvin Cheek led all scorers with 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds, along with three steals. The Pilgrims had 15 steals in the game, helping to force 27 turnovers. Allen finished with 12 points for New England College, who had a 26-18 lead at halftime. 

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