Emerson College’s men’s basketball team is headed to New Jersey to face Rowan University in first round game of the NCAA Division III tournament.
Emerson’s Lions beat WPI on Saturday to win their first-ever NEWMAC championship to advance to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Junior Jack O’Connor (Newport, R.I.) led Emerson (16-11) with a career high 33 points, and was supported by three more Lions who tallied double figures as the team won convincingly 93-75 in a game played in Emerson’s gym.
“[O’Connor] loves to play, and we know he’s really talented,” head coach Bill Curley said to the Berkeley Beacon. “I’m just so happy for him because he worked hard and sacrificed his game a little bit for some of the rest of the team as well.”
“To bring a championship to Emerson, somewhere where we’re not known for sports, just shows you what dedication and hard work can get you,” O’Connor told the Beacon.
Emerson shot extremely well against WPI, hitting 52 percent of its shot and a blazing 53 percent on its threes, and an outstanding 92 percent from the free throw line.
Senior Geoffrey Gray (Newton, Mass.) and freshman Zach Waterhouse (Hampton, N.H.) each contributed 16 points with Gray adding a team-high 11 rebounds and six assists. Freshman Trevor McLean (Boston, Mass.) had 11 points and hit all three of his shots from behind the arc.
WPI was led by Colin McNamara, who tallied 16 points and three other players also notched double figures.
The game was close in the first half, with Emerson holding a 43-35 lead at the half. The Lions kept WPI at bay in the first part of the second half with a single digit lead, and then put sizable breathing room between them midway through the half. They would stretch their lead out to 20 and end with an 18 point victory.
Emerson will face Rowan University (21-6) on Friday, March 1 at 7:30 pm at Rowan, which won the New Jersey Athletic Conference.