ITHACA, N.Y. – Senior Eric Zuk had a season-best 15 points and Will Tashman added 16 but it was not enough as MIT fell to the University of Rochester, 60-52 in the Second Round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball on Saturday evening. The Cardinal and Gray was outscored 40-27 in the second half, narrowly missing out on the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in three years. Tech sees its season come to an end at 20-9, the third consecutive 20-win campaign for Coach Larry Anderson's squad.
The MIT defense limited Rochester's (22-5) opportunities early on, forcing four quick turnovers while holding the Yellow Jackets to just three points over the first 9:35 of the game. Zuk and Jamie Karraker knocked down back-to-back threes to put the Engineers up 12-2 and force a Rochester timeout with 12:26 remaining. Rochester would respond, outscoring Tech, 8-2, over the next minute and a half minutes to get back into the contest. Tashman sank a jump hook on the final possession of the period to send Tech into the locker room up 25-20, as MIT held the no. 1 three-point shooting team in the nation without a three-point field goal in the opening stanza.
Nate Novosel helped Rochester chip away at the MIT lead early in the second, scoring seven of the Yellow Jackets' first 11 points, including a jumper at the 14:17 mark to give Rochester its first lead of the night, 31-30. The lead would change hands four times over the next five minutes, with neither team up by more than thee at any point during that stretch.
After Kates was whistled for a charge, his fourth foul of the game, at the 9:17 mark, Rochester would run off six straight points and take a 43-37 lead with six and a half minutes remaining. Tashman stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws but Mike Labanowski drained a three-ball from the top of the arc a few possessions later to give the Yellow Jackets their biggest lead of the night, 48-41. The Engineers had a couple of chances to get the lead under five down the stretch but a pair of costly turnovers and a clutch three from John DiBartolomeo sealed their fate.
"Congratulations to Rochester on tonight's win," Coach Anderson remarked after the game. "I'm so proud of our guys for leaving everything on the court. Hats off to Eric Zuk, he really led us today. It just wasn't enough to get to the Sweet 16."
Zuk added five rebounds to his scoring effort while connecting on three-of-five shots from three-point range. Kates also finished in double-digits with 14 points. Tashman (eight) and Billy Bender (six) helped MIT secure a 29-25 edge on the glass.
DiBartolomeo paced the Yellow Jackets, who had three players in double figures, with 17 points. Rochester recovered from its early shooting woes, as it shot 52.4% in the second half, including four-of-nine from long distance.
With Zuk as the lone senior on Coach Anderson's talented squad, the Cardinal and Gray is well positioned for a strong return in 2012. In addition to returning its top seven scorers, MIT will welcome back Noel Hollingsworth and Jimmy Burke, key contributors from a year ago who missed most of this season with injury.