Saturday, February 20, 2010

Engineers Stand Alone Atop NEWMAC, Break Single-Season Wins Mark

MIT gritted out their 10th NEWMAC victory of the season, beating Springfield College on the road this afternoon, 66-62. Pacing MIT today was fifth-year senior Billy Johnson, who had a season high 20 points, including a clutch 5-6 at the FT line in the final minute. Johnson said after the game, "Personally, I haven't been in a good shooting rhythm the past couple of games, so hitting those free throws at the end was something I owed to the team." Also playing solid games for MIT were Noel Hollingsworth, who had 15 points, a career-high 15 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Mitchell Kates with 7 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Jimmy Burke also chipped in with 15 points, while Will Tashman added 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

The first half was highly contested. MIT jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, but that was the biggest lead they would have the rest of the half, as the game turned into a defensive slugfest at both ends of the floor. MIT never trailed in the half, but only took a 2 point lead into the break, 28-26.

The beginning of the second half was all Springfield, as they came out of the gates with an 8-0 run over the first 2 minutes of play. The six-point advantage would be the largest lead they would hold, as MIT eliminatged it quickly and regained the lead with more than 15 minutes remaining in the game. MIT would maintain at least a two posession lead over the next 11 minutes, until a Springfield 3 with just over 4 minutes to play cut the lead to 3. MIT answered, though, mainly behind its strong defense. Springfield would score only 1 point over the next 3 minutes as MIT grew its lead to 9 at 58-49, with 1:23 to play. MIT would increase the lead to 10, but Springfield refused to quit, making a flurry of 3s in the final minute to bring the game to within 3 points with 10 seconds to play. However, a free throw by Billy Johnson, followed by a steal by Mitchell Kates sealed the win for MIT.

After the game, Johnson commented on the win and this year's team:

"Most importantly, I realized today that our basketball program is at a different level. It isn't the 22 wins or the regular season championship, but our team's reaction to everything. There was no jumping up and down, no huge celebration; being successful has become the baseline for our program. We set our goals at the beginning of the season, and until we accomplish those goals, and until we play the way we know we can, we will be grateful for what we've already accomplished, but we won't be satisfied."

MIT finishes the regular season at 22-3, 21-2 in Division III, and 10-2 in the NEWMAC. The 22 wins overall and the 10 wins in the NEWMAC are both records for any MIT team in the 110-year history of the program. With the win, MIT earns itself a first-round bye in the NEWMAC tournament and hosting rights for the semifinal and final rounds. They will host the winner of the #4/#5 matchup next Saturday in Rockwell Cage.

Official MIT Release