CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT led by 12 points with seven minutes to play and then held off a late rally by Salem State University to take a 61-57 victory in men's basketball action this evening. Junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) and sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) each had 15 points to lead the Engineers. Junior Bryan Ortiz (Salem, Mass.) led the Vikings with 19 points off the bench.
Neither team could gain much of an advantage in a first half that saw eight lead changes and six ties. Five and a half minutes in junior Paul Dawson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) hit on a layup that put MIT (6-2) up 8-2, but it would be the biggest advantage that the Engineers would have in the half. Salem State (3-3) came back and outscored MIT 10-2, including a three-pointer from Ortiz, to take a 12-10 lead with 12:31 left in the half.
From that point on it remain tight, with neither team leading by more than two points. Ortiz went on to hit two more treys and score 11 points in the half to keep the Vikings in the thick of things. Acker had 10 first half points for the Engineers and his jumper with 2:56 left turned out to be the final points in the half and gave MIT a 25-23 edge.
MIT came out hot to start the second half and scored the first seven points. The final five of that total came from Pedley, and his layup two minutes in gave MIT its biggest lead of the night, 32-23. Ortiz answered the opening run with a trey, but sophomore Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) hit a pair of threes from the corner, with his second make extending the MIT advantage to 47-35 with 13:50 left.
MIT maintained its advantage over the next six minutes, still holding a 12-point lead at 55-43 after a pair of free throws from sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) with 7:06 to go. Those would be the last points for four and a half minutes for the Engineers, however, and Salem State took advantage.
Sophomore Anthony Hodges (Worcester, Mass.) started the comeback for the Vikings with a layup and then hit a three-point shot with three minutes left to close the gap to 55-50. He then hit a pair of free throws to slice the deficit down to three, but Pedley broke the MIT drought with a pair of free throws to push the lead back to five.
Hodges, who scored all 10 of his points in the second half, came back with another three to make it a two-point game with 1:54 left. Ortiz hit a jumper with 1:26 to go that cut the lead down to one at 58-57, but it proved to be the final points of the night for the Vikings. Ortiz missed on a final three-point try with three seconds left and Pedley iced the win with a pair of free throws.
MIT held a 44-41 edge in shooting percentage and outrebounded the Vikings 36-24. Acker completed a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds for the Engineers and also shared the team lead in assists with three. Junior Hamed Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) also reached double figures in scoring for Salem State with 10 points. Senior Andrew White led the Vikings with six boards.
MIT will play again on Monday, December 9 when it plays at Newbury College at 6 p.m. Salem State will play at Tufts in the New England Classic on Saturday at 5 p.m.