- Score: MIT 63, WPI 61
- Records: MIT (20-6); WPI (17-9)
- Location: Babson Park, Mass. (Staake Gymnasium)
- The Lead: A last-second block by sophomore Samuel Bockman (Oceanside, Calif.) sealed a spot in the NEWMAC Championship Game for second-seeded MIT as the Engineers defeated WPI by a thrilling 63-61 final on Saturday night at Babson College. WPI lobbed the ball in off an inbounds play with 1.1 seconds remaining, but Bockman swatted away Chris Rodgers' potential game-tying layup to preserve the two-point victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The teams started out evenly over the first six minutes as the score sat at 12-12 after a putback by WPI's Aaron Todd. WPI built the lead up to six on three occasions, including at 33-27 with 3:08 left in the first half after a layup from Jamani Spencer.
- Senior Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) knocked down a three to start a 7-1 MIT run to close the first period as the Engineers tied it at 34-34 on a layup from AJ Jurko (Weston, Fla.) with 45.7 seconds left.
- MIT forced nine WPI first-half turnovers, while WPI shot 50 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes. Sophomore Bradley Jomard (Paris, France) was the top scorer for MIT with 12 points in the half, while Ian Converse paced WPI with 13 points.
- In a tight second half, WPI pushed to a five-point advantage at 47-42 before six quick points from MIT sophomore Dakota Pierce (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) put the Engineers back in front. Neither team led by more than four over the next six minutes before a Jurko runner gave MIT the 59-54 advantage with 5:36 remaining.
- A one-possession game for the last five minutes, Jomard hit a pair of free throws with 1:38 left that put MIT ahead 62-59. Just 24 seconds later, a long jumper from the left win by Rodgers pulled WPI within one to set the stage for the wild finish. With 10 seconds left, Pierce rolled in his first free throw, but missed the second and WPI called timeout with just 1.1 seconds left. The Engineers inbounded the ball on a lob pass to an open Rodgers on the left side of the lane, but Bockman came out of nowhere to swat away the shot and clinch MIT's 20th win of the season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Jurko paced MIT with 18 points and six assists, while Jomard posted 16 points and a team-leading eight rebounds. Butala also finished in double figures with 13 points and two steals as the Engineers had 10 assists on 23 field goals and forced 13 WPI turnovers.
- Converse led all scorers for WPI with 23 points, while Spencer added 13 off the bench and Rodgers had 12 points and two steals. WPI outrebounded MIT 34-29, while MIT outscored the Engineers 18-12 from three-point land and 11-7 at the free throw line.
- MIT is receiving votes for the third straight week in the D3hoops.com National Poll and is seventh in the most recent NCAA Northeast regional rankings. This is a jump of two spots from the previous regional rankings.
- The 20-win season is the ninth overall in program history and marks the eighth in the last nine seasons for the Engineers and head coach Larry Anderson.
- MIT is back in action on Sunday, February 26th as the Engineers face off with No. 1 ranked Babson College in the NEWMAC Championship Game beginning at 3 p.m. This marks the seventh appearance in the NEWMAC final for MIT and is a rematch of the 2016 championship, which was captured by Babson.