MIT Falls to WPI, 64-52

Freshman Tim Butala

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT could not come up with a run when it needed it as it fell to No. 12 ranked WPI, 64-52, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball battle in Rockwell Cage. WPI edged away midway through the first half and never looked back as it broke a two-game conference losing streak to stay atop the NEWMAC standings. MIT saw freshman Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) hit for a career-high 18 points, with WPI junior Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, Mass.) sharing top scoring honors with his 18-point effort.

Both teams struggled to find offensive consistency in the opening minutes with only a combined nine points scored over the first nine minutes of play. Senior Ryan Kolb (Southington, Conn.) opened the scoring with a layup for WPI (19-3, 9-2 NEWMAC), but MIT (15-7, 6-5 NEWMAC) answered with a free throw from junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) and a jumper from sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) to take its first lead.

MIT still led by one at 5-4 after a layup from junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) six and a half minutes in, but freshman John Mastascusa (North Reading, Mass.) put WPI back on top at 11:13 with a layup of his own. MIT never regained the lead as WPI pulled out to a 15-8 lead after a layup by Domenick Mastascusa with 7:29 left in the half.

Butala, who hit a season best four three-pointers, drained his first of the evening with 4:53 to go to pull MIT to within four at 19-15, but Kolb answered on the other end with a trey to push the lead back to seven. WPI held off the Cardinal and Grey for the rest of the half and took a 31-24 lead into the locker room.

Butala hit a pair of free throws for the first points of the second half to make it a five-point game, but WPI answered with a layup from sophomore Zach Karalis (North Andover, Mass.) and eventually pulled out to a 44-31 lead on a trey from junior Sam Longwell (Acton, Mass.). WPI still led by 13 with 12:29 left, but junior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) hit back-to-back threes to pull MIT back within seven.

It would be as close as MIT would get, however, as WPI answered Levene's treys with consecutive threes of its own as Karalis and Kolb nailed shots to make it 52-39 with nine minutes left. MIT twice cut its deficit down to 11 points, but could not put a large run together to get back in the game. Butala's final trey of the game made it 59-48 with three minutes to go, but WPI came back with five straight points to dash any comeback attempt by the home standing Engineers.

Frankel finished with 12 points and five assists for MIT, with Levene also reaching double figures with his 10 points. Kolb hit both of his three-point attempts on his way to a 14-point night, with Longwell tossing in 11 and Karalis adding 10 for the Engineers. Acker led MIT in rebounding with eight, but WPI out rebounded MIT by a 32-23 margin, led by six boards by Longwell.

MIT will play again on Saturday when it travels to Wheaton College for a 1:00 p.m. game against the Lyons. WPI will play on Saturday as well, hosting Coast Guard at 1:00 p.m.