Clark Athletics and NEWMAC Weekly Round-Up (1/30/23-2/6/23)


William Schechter

Isaiah Taylor dribbling around a screen set by Kekoa McArdle during Clark’s 84-80 victory over Emerson College. All photos courtesy of William Schechter

William Schechter, Sports Editor

Hello and welcome to all Clark Cougars fanatics, this is your latest edition of the Clark Athletics and NEWMAC recap. This past week saw several thrilling basketball matchups, so let’s dive right into the last seven days.

This Week’s Competitions

Our week starts on Wednesday, Feb. 1 with the Clark women’s basketball team hosting Springfield College for a midweek NEWMAC showdown. The Cougars ended up falling to the Pride 46 to 69. Jacqueline Faulise was the top scorer for Clark in the match, securing 18 points on 54 percent from the field. 

That same evening, the men’s basketball team went on the road to take on the Coast Guard Academy Bears. Clark traveled back to Worcester happy, winning the game 79 to 66. Junior Bruce Saintilus (21 points, eight rebounds, and four steals) and sophomore Kekoa McArdle (12 points, 10 rebounds) stood out in this contest. 

Both basketball teams played on Saturday, Feb. 4. Men’s basketball played first, winning a vital nailbiter against Emerson College, 84 to 80. Clark endured back and forth action from start to finish to come away with a much-needed win in terms of the playoffs race. More to come on this later.

Women’s basketball played next, securing an astronomical 100 to 29 win over Mount Holyoke College. That is the most points the Cougz have scored in a game since 1996, making the team’s Senior Day all the more exciting. 

Sarah Zambrano put in a dominant effort for the Cougars, scoring 19 points and pulling down eight rebounds in the forward’s final career home game. Five total Cougz scored double digit points against the Lyons, including four of the starters.

That just concludes this week’s recap, meaning it is time to hand out some awards. 

Weekly Accolades

Both honors this week will be going to the men’s basketball team, with Isaiah Taylor taking home athlete of the week and the win over Emerson earning game of the week. 

First up, sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor. Taylor, a biology major, averaged 22 points per game in Clark two matches last week. This included a career-high 33 points in the game of the week against Emerson. 

Not only did Taylor score a high volume of points against Emerson, but the guard also did so in an efficient manner. The sophomore from Methuen, Mass. was 12 for 20, shooting 60 percent from the field. Taylor was also lights out from beyond the arc, converting six out of nine three point shots. Isaiah Taylor played a crucial role in both of Clark’s victories last week, especially over Emerson College, earning the guard both this edition’s athlete of the week award and the NEWMAC’s offensive athlete of the week award

Isaiah Taylor’s dominant play this past week continues an overall dominant year for the sophomore; averaging over 17 points per game on 43 percent from three for the year, Isaiah Taylor has proven to be invaluable to Clark’s success this season. 

Moving on to the next award – game of the week – we stay with men’s basketball. Clark’s victory over the Emerson Lions on Saturday, Feb. 4 is a candidate for game of the year. Not only did this victory boost the Cougars’ playoff stock by a great margin, the game itself in a vacuum was incredibly entertaining. 

Guard Bruce Saintilus standing behind the three point line while Reid Neumann pushes towards the key. (William Schechter)

Isaiah Taylor put up a mammoth 33 points in the game of the week, as mentioned before –  a performance that was bolstered by the whole squad. Kekoa McArdle had yet another outstanding game, scoring 19 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and assisting on five baskets. Bruce Saintilus also showed out against the Lions, tallying 19 for the Cougz’ scoreline and cleaning up the boards with nine rebounds. Both of these near double-double performances helped propel the Cougz to their much needed win. 

Clark’s strong performance at the free throw line was critical for their success. Emerson shot a measly 64 percent from the free throw line, missing five of their 14 attempts. Clark on the other hand was clinical, missing just one of their 13 shots from the line. Both Clark and Emerson shot similarly from the field, so it was Clark’s poise from the stripe that made all the difference. That scoring advantage was enough to break the shooting deadlock, giving our Cougz the win. 

Around the NEWMAC 

Looking around the conference, there were a couple games worth pointing out. On Wednesday Feb. 1, Worcester rival WPI lost their first conference game of the season, falling to Emerson 71 to 66. Emerson’s Max Davis scored an impressive 31 points in the Lions’ victory over the Engineers.

Moving on to Saturday, Feb. 4, in another men’s NEWMAC competition, WPI nearly lost back-to-back conference matchups. The Engineers barely pulled out a win against Babson College, 55 to 54. The Engineers were down late to the Beavers, but clawed back to avoid dropping two in a row. 

Finally, on Saturday, Feb. 4 we turn to a women’s basketball tussle. WPI took down opponent Springfield in yet another game that went down to the wire (68-63). This game will have effects on each teams’ playoff seeding, as Springfield is now one and a half games back from WPI after the loss. Had Springfield won, they would have only been down half a game to WPI (who currently holds the second seed). 

Looking Ahead 

Clark has three upcoming matchups to look forward to this week. First on Wednesday Feb. 8, the women’s basketball team is set to face Emerson College on the road at the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym. 

The men’s basketball team will also suit up on Wednesday, hosting the Wheaton College Lyons. To cap off the upcoming week, Clark men’s basketball will host Babson College on Saturday, Feb. 11 for the team’s senior day game. 

Reid Neumann standing in the corner holding one finger up. (William Schechter)

Both upcoming contests are crucial for the men’s basketball team’s playoff seeding. Given that Clark won both of its games last week, and the next closest seed, Springfield College, dropped one of two games last week, Clark is in a great position to make the playoffs. Clark is two games up over Springfield, meaning the Cougz will clinch a playoff berth with wins in two of their four remaining games.

Not only can the Cougz make the playoffs – they can also rocket up the standings with wins over Wheaton and/or Babson. Both games against the Beavers and the Lyons will be tough: they are two teams full of talent. But Clark has proven that they can keep pace with the top dogs of the NEWMAC this past week by beating Emerson (who themselves beat conference-leading WPI.)

That just about wraps up yet another edition of the Clark Athletics and NEWMAC weekly round-up. The Cougars played some great games this past week and have some critical end of season games coming up soon. As the winter season comes to a close and the playoffs approach, we will begin covering the start of the spring sports season. Until then, good luck to the Cougars in all of their upcoming games, and as always, roll Cougz!