MIT Edges Springfield, 55-51

Freshman Dakota Pierce

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) sank a pair of free throws with two seconds left that completed a 27-point afternoon and clinch a thrilling 55-51 victory for MIT over Springfield College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference men's basketball action. Freshman Nick McKenna (Danvers, Mass.) came off the bench and hit on 4-of-5 three-point attempts and led Springfield with 14 points.

In a game that was close all the way, freshman Dakota Pierce (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) hit a pair of three throws with 50 seconds left in the contest to put MIT (11-3, 3-1 NEWMAC) up 51-44. Springfield (11-4, 2-2 NEWMAC) came back with a layup from senior Robbie Burke (Cheshire, Mass.) and then converted after a steal on the inbounds play by sophomore Alex Garstka (Westfield, Mass.) as senior Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) drained a trey to make it a two-point game with 29 seconds left.

With eight ticks left Pierce hit another pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game. Martin converted on a layup on the other end, but with three seconds left Springfield was forced to foul and Pedley stepped to the line and connected on his game-clinching shots.

MIT's defense was on top of its game at the start of the contest as the Engineers held Springfield to 0-for-9 shooting over the first eight minutes. Led by five points from Pedley, MIT took advantage and moved out to a 10-0 lead after a basket by junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.). 

Springfield finally ended its scoring drought when McKenna drained his first three of the afternoon at the 11:49 mark. That started a 9-2 run for the Pride as they clawed their way back into the game after the slow start. Burke then hit on a jumper with nine minutes left in the half that drew Springfield back to within three at 12-9. The Pride could not get any closer than that for the rest of the half, however, as MIT, which held the Pride to 28 percent shooting in the half, was able to keep them from gaining the lead. Springfield had it back down to four points on a pair of Burke free throws with 2:56 to go in the half, but Pedley hit a pair of threes in the final minutes as the Engineers took a 28-21 lead at halftime.

A three by Pierce to open the second half gave MIT its largest lead of the game, 31-21. But Springfield answered with a McKenna trey and the two teams went on to trade blows for the first 10 minutes of the half. MIT still had a seven-point advantage with 10 and a half minutes left, but the Pride hit three straight three-pointers, with one off the hand of Martin tying the game at 41-all with 8:46 to go.

That would proved to be as close as the Pride would get, as Pedley hit one of his game-high seven threes to put the Engineers back on top with 6:15 left. The two squads then traded baskets until Pierce hit his two free throws to start the frenzied final minute of the game. 

Pierce was the only other MIT player in double figures in the scoring column, finishing with a career-best 12 points. Martin finished with 11 points for Springfield, with Burke adding 10 points and leading the team with nine rebounds. Junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) led all players with 12 rebounds for MIT. MIT out shot Springfield 38.6 to 33.3 percent, and also held a 36-30 edge on the glass.

Both teams will be back in NEWMAC action next Wednesday, with MIT traveling to Babson College and Springfield to Coast Guard for a pair of 7:00 p.m. matchups.