CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - With first place in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) on the line, the No. 8 ranked MIT men's basketball team outlasted visiting Springfield, 67-56, on Wednesday night at Rockwell Cage. Noel Hollingsworth led the way for the Engineers with 25 points and 10 rebounds as they improved to 16-1 overall and now stand alone atop the NEWMAC at 4-0. The loss was the first for the Pride in league play, as they dropped to 7-9 overall and 3-1in the conference.
With the score tied at 44 with just over 10 minutes to go, Billy Bender knocked down his second three-pointer of the night, giving the host Engineers a lead they would not relinquish. A few minutes later, the Cardinal and Gray began a 13-3 run, with seven points coming from the foul line, to put the game out of reach.
Trailing 37-33 after the intermission, Springfield scored five straight points early in the frame, completing a 14-4 stretch and coming all the way back to within one at the 17:12 mark. Pat Crean's steal and layup a few minutes later gave the visitors their first lead of the night at 42-41. Mitchell Kates tied things back up from the foul line on a minute later and the teams traded a pair of baskets on ensuing possessions, setting up Bender's three.
Tech got out to a quick 10-2 lead to begin the game, with Hollingsworth and Kates combining for eight of the 10. The teams traded buckets over the next six minutes with Hollingsworth putting the Engineers up 12 on a layup at the 10:53 mark. The Pride would respond with a 12-2 run of their own, capped by a Matt Cavalieri jumper with 5:13 to go in the first. Three quick trifectas from Jimmy Burke, however, and the MIT lead was back up to 11. From there, the Pride battled to within four over the final 2:52 of the stanza, eventually knotting the score midway through the second.
Eight of Hollingsworth's 25 came from the foul line, as he also contributed four assists and three blocks while playing nearly all 40 minutes. Three other Engineers finished in double figures, led by Will Tashman, who narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine boards. Bender and Kates each finished with 10.
Crean was the high scorer for the Pride with 17 while Cavalieri contributed 14 along with a team-high seven caroms.
The game was a physical contest from the outset, as four players fouled out and the teams combined for 43 personals. Free throw shooting was a key to MIT's second-half effort, as the Cardinal and Gray went 14-20 over the final 20 minutes.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday, January 23, hosting conference foes. MIT welcomes Wheaton College for a 1:00 p.m. start while Springfield will take on WPI also at 1:00 p.m.