The Rensselaer men’s basketball team got off to a great start on this year’s season. Winning four of its first five games, the squad has shown a promising outlook for the rest of the season as the men prepare to begin their Liberty League matches.
The Engineers traveled to Albany on November 15 for their season opener against Sage College, where they put forth a solid effort and walked away successful with a score of 82-62. Senior Tim Rupp secured the first basket of the game less than one minute into the start of the match. RPI maintained this lead until Sage broke a tie halfway through the period to take the lead, but the Engineers quickly reclaimed their advantage and held onto it for the remainder of the first half, finishing 37-29. The Engineers never gave up their lead in the second half, making a total of 25 baskets throughout the period. Team captain senior Ricky Philatre shot 60 percent from the floor, adding 16 points to the board. Senior Jeremy Colon completed the game with 11 points while Rupp added ten points with seven rebounds.
The Engineers claimed their second victory of the season during the Rensselaer Tip-Off Tournament held at ECAV on November 20 against Cooper Union College. Rupp made history at 19:31 of the first half, sinking a three-point shot for the first basket scored at the East Campus Arena. From that point on, the home team continued to press on to retain their early lead. The Engineers were able to stay ahead for the entire first half, entering the break with a score of 52-31. The Engineers returned to play for the second half determined to increase their advantage over Cooper Union. RPI had no trouble at all, going on several scoring runs including a 10-0 run through the sixth minute to build up a 42 point advantage with 5:34 remaining in the game. The Engineers continued to dominate throughout the remainder or the game, ending with a 44 point advantage of 97-53. Junior Travis Jones led the squad with 18 points which included two three-point shots. Sophomore Matthew Pooley finished the game with 14 points while Colon and Rupp both finished with 11 points.
This win advanced the team to the championship game the following day against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Beavers gained an early lead in the match and the Engineers were unable to catch up until a layup by senior Eric Anderson at the 12:18 mark brought a two-point advantage to the RPI team. Rensselaer held onto this lead for four minutes when MIT took back the lead. The Institute was behind by seven points as they entered intermission 23-30, but opened up the second half with a 9-0 run and brought the advantage back in their favor. The Engineers were up by one with 21 seconds left in the game, but a layup from the other team placed them one point behind with thirteen seconds left in play. The Engineers were unable to make up the final point, falling behind MIT 56-55 for their first loss of the season. Junior DJ Blakemore led the team with 11 points with Philatre close behind with 10 points. Both Blakemore and Philatre also earned MVP honors, joining the All-Tournament Team.
The Engineers were back on the court against the Mount Saint Mary College Blue Knights on November 24 at ECAV. After achieving a 39-26 lead in the first half, the second half opened with a back-and-forth battle as the Engineers tried to push their advantage even further. Matching the visitors’ basket for basket through the first seven minutes, RPI opened a 21-point lead at 13:04. The Engineers continued to hold a double-digit advantage throughout the majority of the half, but saw its lead cut significantly as the Blue Knights went on a 11-2 run with six minutes remaining. RPI continued to fight back, bringing the score to 85-80 at the conclusion of the game. Jones went 6 for 6 from the floor and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, claiming a total of 22 points. Rupp finished with 14 points while junior Jeremy Bull and Colon finished with 10 points apiece.
The Engineers hosted the Paul Smith College Bobcats last Sunday in which RPI proved to be a dominant force. Starting off with a strong offense, RPI built up a 59-24 lead after the first 20 minutes of the game. A total of fourteen different players scored to lead the Engineers to a 104-51 win. Junior Mike Hammond led the Engineers with a total of 22 points, including seven shots from the floor and two from beyond the arc. Both Anderson and Pooley scored 19 points each with 10 shots from the floor and 5 from the arc between the two of them.
The Engineers currently stand with a record of 4-1 as they prepare for their Liberty League season that starts in January. RPI returns to action this weekend when it hosts the Tri-State Shootout Tournament at the East Campus Arena on December 5 and 6.