CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a battle for sole possession of second-place in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball standings, MIT pulled away from Springfield College over the last five minutes of the contest to take a 68-59 victory. Senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) led the way for the Engineers with his ninth double-double of the season, netting 21 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Senior Alex Berthiaume (Springfield, Mass.) led all scorers for Springfield with 24 points.
Springfield (15-7, 6-3 NEWMAC) drew first blood in the contest when junior Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) hit a layup on the Pride's first possession. It turned out to be Springfield's only lead of the game as senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) countered for MIT (16-4, 7-2 NEWMAC) with a three-pointer to put the Engineers on top. MIT went on to stretch its lead out to seven points at 15-8 five minutes in after a layup by sophomore Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.).
An 8-2 run over the next five minutes enabled Springfield to creep back to within a point after a Berthiaume layup. MIT pushed it back out to a six-point lead after a pair of Burke free throws made it 22-16, but Berthiaume stayed hot, scoring 12 straight points for the Pride, to keep the Engineers from pulling away. Berthiaume finished his personal run with a pair of free throws with 2:35 left that cut the MIT advantage to four at 32-28. A pair of free throws by Martin finished the first half scoring, cutting the MIT lead to just two at 34-32.
Berthiaume tied the game with the first basket of the second half and the score remained tied three minutes in after a jumper by senior Pat Rossi (Rock Tavern, N.Y.) knotted things up at 36-all. Springfield missed its next six shots however, and MIT took advantage. The Engineers, who finished with a 37-25 edge on the boards, picked up every rebound but two over the next three minutes and pulled out to a 43-38 after an offensive board and put back by Redfield. MIT then went on to increase its margin to 10 points with 9:52 to go when a trey by Burke made it 50-40.
MIT still held a 56-47 lead with 6:52 left when Springfield clawed its way back with six straight points, closing to 56-53 when Rossi converted on a layup on a nice feed from Berthiaume with five minutes to play. Neither team could score for the next two minutes until Tashman broke the draught with a layup for the Engineers. A pair of blocked shots by Redfield, who finished with five, helped keep the Pride at bay as MIT pulled back to a 10-point bulge when senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) drove in for a layup, completing an 8-1 run that made it 64-54 with 42 second left. Berthiaume hit a trey with 17 seconds left for Springfield, but there was not enough time left for the Pride to come all the way back as freshman Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) iced the win with a pair free throws with seven ticks left.
Redfield also notched a double-double for MIT, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Burke dropped in 14 points for the Engineers, with Pedley coming off the bench to hit on 3-of-6 three-point attempts as part of a 13-point effort. Berthiaume also led all players with five assists for Springfield, with junior Tim Swenson (Millbury, Mass.) leading the Pride with five rebounds.
Next up for MIT will be its final regular season road game as it plays at Babson College in a NEWMAC contest on Wednesday, February 6 at 8:00 p.m. Springfield will be off until next Saturday when it hosts WPI at 2:00 p.m.