February 27, 2010

MIT Upset by Clark, 71-59, in NEWMAC Men's Basketball Semifinals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Four players finished in double figures for Clark, as the fifth-seeded Cougars knocked off top seed MIT, 71-59 in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball semifinal on Saturday afternoon. Mitch Renshaw's personal 7-0 run put Clark up eight points with 7:32 to go and MIT would get no closer, as the Cougars (15-12) advanced to the NEWMAC Championship game for the first time since 2003. Noel Hollingsworth led the scoring for MIT, with 30 points in the losing effort to go along with nine rebounds. Will Tashman also had 12 points and eight boards for Tech (22-4), who will await word on a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Division III tournament on Monday morning.

After a Mitchell Kates 3-pointer put the Engineers on top, 49-47, with 12:55 remaining, Clark would reel off the game's next 10 points while holding MIT scoreless for nearly six minutes. Brian Vayda knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to give Clark the lead for good at the 10:10 mark. Renshaw would then make three straight jumpers, including one from beyond the arc, to propel the Cougars to the upset win.

Renshaw and Jack Minister, with 19 points each, led the scoring for Clark. Mark Alexander (15) and Vayda (10) joined them in double-figures. Minister was five-for-ten from three while Alexander added five rebounds and five assists, both team highs.

Noel Hollingsworth led the scoring for MIT, scoring 30 in the losing effort to go along with nine rebounds. Will Tashman also had 12 points and eight boards for Tech (22-4), who will await word on a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Division III tournament on Monday morning.

MIT would make its first seven shots of the game to open up a 17-4 advantage, just over four and a half minutes into the contest. Billy Johnson connected on a pair of three's during the spurt. However, Clark would respond with 15-2 run over the next 6:03 to even things up at 19. With the game tied at 22, the Cougars then scored 12 in a row, including four straight from three-point range, to take a 34-22 lead with 2:29 remaining in the half. The Cardinal and Grey would score the final nine of the period to get within three at the intermission.

The teams traded baskets at the outset of the second half as Tashman's layup and foul cut a five point Clark lead down to two. A pair of Hollingsworth free throws would give MIT its first lead since the 6:49 mark of the first. Clark then got a jumper from Tucker Esborn and a fast-break layup by Alexander to go back on top by three before a quick 7-2 run by the Engineers put the hosts on top, 47-45. Reed Powell and Kates each made driving layups before the decisive 10-0 run.

MIT had a 35-25 advantage on the boards but Clark was able to make up for that by shooting 47.6% (10-21) from three-point range and forcing the Engineers into 14 turnovers.

The NEWMAC Championship will be played at MIT on Sunday, February 28 at 12:00 p.m. with Clark taking on either No. 2 Springfield or the third seed, WPI. MIT will find out its postseason fate during the NCAA selection announcement on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. Fans can view the announcement live at NCAA.com.