CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With the score tied at 64-64 and time winding down, senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) nailed a three-pointer with three seconds left to lift the MIT men's basketball team past Babson College, 69-64. Senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) led all scorers for MIT with 22 points, while junior Kelly Ross (Furlong, Pa.) led four Babson players in double figures with 17 points.
MIT (12-3, 3-1 NEWMAC) took and early 7-2 lead in the contest as Tashman scored four points in the opening minutes. Babson (8-8, 0-4 NEWMAC) fought back, with sophomore John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) hitting a shot that pulled the Beavers within two and then followed an MIT turnover with a three that gave Babson its first lead of the game at 10-9.
It remained tight over the next 10 minutes, with Babson holding the biggest advantage over that time with a four-point edge. With 6:21 left senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) hit a three-pointer that put MIT up 21-20. Babson responded with nine straight points, five by Ross, whose three-point play with four minutes to go put the Beavers ahead 29-21. Aided by a three-pointer from Burke and a defense that held Babson without a point over the final 2:12, MIT managed to cut five points off the Babson lead to trail by three, 33-30, at the half.
Babson extended its lead to six points early in the second half after a jumper from junior Matt Palazini (Franklin, Mass.). MIT then clawed its way back with an 8-1 spurt, taking its first lead of the half when Tashman hit a jumper with 14:30 left that made it 38-37 in favor of the Engineers.
Much like the first half, it remained close over the next eight minutes; a stretch that saw the lead change hands seven times. One of those lead changes came with 6:50 left when Wickey's layup pushed Babson ahead, 54-53. MIT then ran off seven straight points, taking a 60-54 lead when freshman Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) nailed a three with four minutes to play.
Babson answered back with a 6-0 run of its own, tying the game at 60-all on a Wickey three at the three-minute mark. Pedley answered with another three before senior Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, N.Y.) brought Babson back within one with a layup with two minutes left. Braithwaite then came up with a steal and was going in for the layup when Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) blocked his attempt, one of six rejections on the afternoon for the sophomore, to maintain the Engineer's lead with a minute to go.
Tashman made one of two free throw attempts with 39 seconds left that made it 64-62 for MIT, but Kates fouled Ross on the other end with 22 second to go and Ross sank both free throws to tie the score. Kates brought the ball back up the right side of the court and then found Burke open on the left wing from where he sank his game-clinching shot. Burke then stole the Babson inbounds pass, was fouled, and sank both free throws for the final points of the game.
Burke finished with 15 points for MIT, with Pedley coming off the bench to pump in 11. Kates had a double-double of 10 points and a season-high 12 assists for the Engineers. Wickey recorded a double-double for Babson, finishing with 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Braithwaite and Palazini also reached double figures for the Beavers with 11 and 10 points respectively.
MIT will be off for a week before its next contest; using the time to prepare for matchup with undefeated WPI in Worcester on Saturday, January 19 at 2:00 p.m. Babson will travel to Coast Guard on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. game.