Worcester, MA --- Sophomores Marco Coppola (Watertown, MA) and Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) combined for 54 points while both registering career-highs to propel WPI to a 88-75 victory over visiting Castleton State in the men's basketball season-opener for both squads on Thursday evening.
It marks the 11th straight season-opening victory for the Engineers under 12th year head coach Chris Bartley
WPI trailed 1-0 after a made Spartan free throw by Mark Comstock (Rutland, VT), then never trailed again in the contest. The Engineers shot a sizzling 58.6% from the field in the opening half. A basket by Longwell and pair of free throws by Coppola in the final 1:04 before intermission allowed the hosts to take their biggest lead into the locker room at halftime at 45-32.
Castleton clawed back to within five points at 58-53 midway through the second stanza but a quick 9-0 spurt fueled by Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) and Coppola saw WPI surge ahead and never trial by less than nine points the rest of the way.
Coppola ended with 33 points, connecting on 11-of-23 field goal attempts and draining 11-of-14 free throws. His previous career-high was 29 set last January in a win at Clark. The sophomore also established a new career standard in rebounds with 10. It was Coppola's second career double-double as he tallied 14 points and doled out 11 assists in a victory over Salem State last November.
Longwell eclipsed his career-best of 18 points with 21, to go along seven rebounds. Kolb added 13 points and Joe Wesoloski (Arlington, MA) flirted with a double-doubled with nine points and a career-high nine boards. Point guard Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA) contributed seven points and a team-high three assists despite being saddled with foul trouble.
Castleton State was led offensively by Logan White (Hartford, VT) who scored 27 points on 11-of-13 from the field, and drained 5-of-7 3-pointers on the night. Comstock was also in double digits, tossing in 11 points while corralling a team-high seven rebounds. Jeremy Odena (Boston, MA) paced all reserves with eight points and Chris Baretta (Hazleton, PA) led all players with four assists.
WPI is back in action on Saturday, traveling to Keene State for 5:30pm match-up. Castleton State is off until Tuesday when it hosts Plymouth State on Tuesday at 7:30pm.