CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Trailing at the half by six, MIT outscored Curry College 41-27 in the second half to erase the deficit and come away with a 71-63 win in non-conference men's basketball action in Rockwell Cage this afternoon. Senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half to help the top-ranked Engineers hold off the upset attempt by the Colonels. Sophomore Antonio Jones (Boston, Mass.) led Curry with 13 points.
In his first career start, freshman Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) hit a three-pointer from the corner on the first MIT (4-0) shot of the game to give the Engineers the early lead. From there Curry (1-3) scored eight straight points, four coming from junior Lambros Papalambros (Quincy, Mass.), to take and 8-3 lead less than three minutes in.
Kates hit a three to keep MIT close, but the Engineers struggled with their shooting in the half, as the Colonels held them to just 38 percent. Curry built the lead back to eight at the 12:19 mark on a layup by Jones that made it 18-10, but could not get its advantage to double figures despite shooting 54 percent in the half. Twice MIT cut the Curry advantage to three points, only to see the Colonels stretch it back out to eight again. A layup by senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) with 2:44 on the clock cut it to 31-28, but a jumper by senior Sedale Jones (Pittsfield, Mass.) and a trey from sophomore Lamar Phillips (Pittsfield, Mass.) pushed the lead back to eight with a minute left in the half. A layup by sophomore Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) cut the lead back to six at 36-30 at the half.
Curry had its biggest lead of the game after a pair of free throws from Papalambros made it 41-32 a minute and a half into the second half. Neither team scored for three minutes until senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) nailed a three-pointer at the 15:29 mark, with Kates following with another trey and Acker converting a three-point play to tie the game at 41-41 with 13:48 left. Curry broke what turned out to be a six-minute scoreless streak on a Papalambros jumper, but Acker answered on the other end to tie things back up again.
MIT then took advantage of three straight Curry turnovers, scoring seven straight to take its first lead since the start of the game on a jumper by Tashman with 11 minutes to go. The Colonels got back within five on an Antonio Jones jumper, but a layup by Kates started a 6-0 run that allowed the Engineers to take the first double digit lead of the game by either team at 56-45 with 7:37 left after another Kates lay-in.
Trailing 60-50, Curry attempted a comeback with five straight points, pulling back within five at 60-55 after a Sedale Jones free throw with 2:46 to go. Freshman Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) then hit a three for MIT and the Engineers never looked back as Burke hit four straight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
After Kates, three other Engineers reached double figures for MIT, with Acker scoring 12 and pulling down seven rebounds, Tashman finishing with 11 points, a team-high eight boards and six assists and Burke adding 10 points. Kates handed out seven assists and came up with three steals in addition to his 22-points. Curry, which outshot MIT 51 to 43 percent, saw Papalambros add 12 points to go along with five assists and junior A.J. Stephens (Stamford, Conn.) finish with 11. Sedale Jones led the Colonels with five rebounds.
MIT will play again on Tuesday when it hosts local rival Tufts University at 7:00 p.m. Curry opens Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Wednesday when it hosts Nichols at 7:30 p.m.