February 25, 2012

MIT Downs Babson, 65-42, in NEWMAC Semifinals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Top-seed and third-ranked MIT used a 20-4 run over the end of the first half and beginning of the second to pull away from visiting Babson College en route to a 65-42 win in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Rockwell Cage. With the win, the Engineers advance to their third conference championship game in four years.

Junior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) paced the Cardinal and Gray with 19 points on eight-of-15 shooting, to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Senior Noel Hollingsworth (Salt Lake City, Utah) scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and also added eight boards. Junior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) and senior Billy Bender (The Woodlands, Texas) were also in double figures for MIT with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Junior Alex Rudolph (Bal Harbour, Fla.) was the high scorer for Babson with 9, adding a team-high seven rebounds. John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) also collected seven caroms while scoring five points.

Tech jumped out to an early five-point lead after a three-pointer from Bender put the hosts ahead 7-2 just over four minutes into the contest. The MIT lead would stay between three and five points for the next six minutes until a quick, 6-0 spurt extended the Engineers' advantage to nine, midway through the frame.

Babson would battle back late in the period as back-to-back baskets by Marcus McDermott (Milton, Mass.) and Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, N.Y.) cut the deficit to five, 29-24, with 3:22 to go. That would prove to be as close as the fourth-seeded Beavers would get the rest of the way, as the Cardinal and Gray ended the half on a 9-1 run to take a 38-25 advantage into the locker room.

A layup by Bender started the spurt, followed by Kates' only three-pointer of the afternoon. Tashman and Bender added consecutive baskets before Rudolph hit one-of-two from the line to close out the period.

The second half was more of the same, with MIT starting out on an 11-3 run to stretch the lead to 21, following a long three-pointer from Hollingsworth at the 15:09 mark. Babson would get no closer than 19 the rest of the way, as MIT picked up its 24 win of the season.

The MIT defense limited Babson to 17 second-half points and just one-of-13 shooting from three-point range. Meanwhile, Tech connected on 55.3% of its attempts and owned a 40-26 edge in points in the paint.

Babson's season comes to an end at 14-13 overall, its highest win total since 2007.

MIT will face the winners of second-seeded WPI and third-seeded Springfield College in the NEWMAC championship on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Tech is looking for its third conference title in program history and will hope to sew up its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.