January 16, 2010

No. 9 MIT Survives Conference Road Test at Clark

Courtesy of Clark University Sports Information

Worcester, Mass. - MIT, the nation's No. 9 team, erased a 14-point first half deficit and escaped with a 54-51 win over host Clark in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at the Kneller Athletic Center.

With the win, the Engineers move to 15-1 overall and more importantly, 3-0 in league standings while the Cougars fall to 10-6 overall and 1-2 in NEWMAC play.

Clark came out of the gates on fire, grabbing a 17-6 lead less than ten minutes into the game on the strength of nine early points from emerging sophomore Mitch Renshaw, who canned a triple to give the Cougars their double digit advantage.

MIT, meanwhile, started the game 1-for-5 with three turnovers, before freshman Jimmy Burke dropped in a pair of three-pointers to get the Engineer offense going.

The Clark lead grew to 14 at 23-9 following an inside hoop from Jonathan Phillips and fluctuated between ten and 14 for the next eight minutes and stood at 35-21 with under two minutes remaining following an offensive rebound and putback from freshman Marcus Armstrong.

MIT then ran off six straight points - five coming from freshman Mitchell Kates - to steal momentum going into halftime and make the score 35-27 at intermission.

Things continued to head south for the Cougars in the opening moments of the second half as Bill Bender dropped in a three-pointer to even the score at 40-40 with 15 minutes left and then Ben Montgomery gave the Engineers the lead at 42-40 at the 11:56 mark on an inside putback.

Clark actually tied the game at 47 all after Jack Minister picked Burke's pocket and found a streaking Mark Alexander open for an easy hoop.

The Cougars didn't score over the next three minutes, meanwhile, MIT ran off six straight points capped by a pair of Burke free throws.

Alexander found Renshaw underneath for an easy score, making the game 53-49, and then an Alexander fast break finish off of a missed Engineer free throw made the score 53-51 with 13 seconds left.

After being fouled, Burke made his first free throw and missed his second, leaving the door open for overtime, but Alexander's three-pointer from the right side fell short at the buzzer.

MIT shot 50 percent from the field for the game, including 55 percent in the second half, while Clark went cold, connecting on just 29 percent (7-for-24) of its attempts in the second stanza.

Noel Hollingsworth led the Engineer offense with 17 points and six rebounds, while Kates added 12 points and three boards.

Brian Vayda led Clark with 13 points and six boards. Both Alexander (12 points) and Renshaw (11 points) joined him in double figures for the Cougars.

Clark will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they host crosstown NEWMAC rival WPI in a game that will be televised live on TV Charter 3. MIT will look to extend its current four-game win streak on Wednesday when it hosts Springfield.