WORCESTER, Mass. – MIT stayed close to No. 6 WPI for most of the game, but an off day from behind the three-point line was too much to overcome as WPI prevailed, 59-47. It was the first loss in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play for MIT, which received 14 points off the bench from freshman Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.).
It was MIT (9-3, 1-1 NEWMAC) that struck first in the contest, with junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) drawing first blood in the battle of the Engineers with a pair of free throws in the opening minute. After WPI (12-1, 2-0 NEWMAC) tied things up on a basket by Ryan Kolb, sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) nailed a three to put MIT back up 5-2 at the 18:41 mark.
That three pointer proved to be the last of the game for MIT, however, as the Engineers missed on their next 11 attempts to finish the contest just 1-for-12 from behind the arc. WPI came back and scored the next eight points, including a trey from Kolb, that pushed WPI in front a minute after Pedley's shot.
MIT stayed close, and trailed by just two at 10-8 after a free throw from junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.). But WPI picked up back-to-back threes from Sam Longwell and Sean Doncaster midway through the half that pushed the Engineers to a 21-14 advantage.
WPI led by as many as 10, but MIT outscored WPI 8-3 over the final four and a half minutes to shave the lead in half. Pedley scored the first four on back-to-back layups and Frankel finished it off with a pair of free throws and a lay in with 1:23 left put MIT within five at 33-28 at the half.
Pedley scored in the opening minute of the second half to make it a three-point game, but it would be as close as MIT would get. Kolb, who finished with 17 points, held MIT at bay with a jumper and a three-pointer, but MIT still trailed by just four at 40-36 after Pedley laid one in after an offensive board by sophomore Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) with 15:26 left.
MIT's offense then had trouble getting a shot to drop as WPI held the Engineers to just three free throws from junior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) over a nearly nine-minute span. WPI took advantage and outscored MIT, 14-2 at one point, getting six of those points from Longwell to open a 54-38 advantage with 8:35 left.
Frankel finally broke the no field goal streak with a layup and Acker followed with a jumper with 5:40 left that made it 54-43. MIT could not extend the run, however, and did not score again until the final minute of the contest as WPI went on to the victory.
Pedley was the only other player in double figures for MIT, finishing with 11. Acker was a point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and leading all players with 15 rebounds. Longwell added 15 points for WPI and shared the team lead with seven boards for the Engineers. WPI out shot MIT, 42.6 to 38.5 percent, with MIT out rebounding its opponent, 30-26.
MIT will be back home for its next game as it hosts Coast Guard at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m. WPI will also be at home on Wednesday as it hosts Babson at 7:00 p.m.