- Records: No. 3 MIT (22-5); No. 4 WPI (16-12)
- Score: No. 3 MIT 63, No. 4 WPI 57
- Location: Springfield, Mass. (James Naismith Court at Blake Arena)
- The Lead: Led by four players in double figures and a 16-point outing from Tournament Most Outstanding Player AJ Jurko (Weston, Fla.), the No. 3 seeded MIT men's basketball captured the NEWMAC Championship with a 63-57 win over WPI on Sunday in Springfield. This is the sixth NEWMAC Championship for the Engineers under head coach Larry Anderson and will be the team's eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. MIT has now defeated WPI in the NEWMAC Tournament for three straight seasons, including last year's semifinal game at Babson.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- WPI came out strong over the first 3:19, seizing an 11-2 lead behind six early points from Aaron Todd. An MIT layup by junior Tim Roberts (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) ended the run, but WPI extended the lead to double figures with 13:36 at 16-6 on a runner off the glass from Jake Wisniewski.
- Trailing 20-8, the Cambridge Engineers countered with an 11-1 run that was capped by a dunk and a three-point play from sophomore Aidan Einloth (Grayslake, Ill.) to pull MIT within 21-19 at the 8:04 mark. WPI threes from Dakota Wheeler and Kahleb Downing, along with a putback from Todd, stretched the advantage back out to 29-20 with 6:13 left before the break.
- MIT put together a 7-0 run to close within 31-30 on a Roberts layup at the 2:12 mark and eventually trailed 36-32 at the half following two free throws from Jurko with 1.8 seconds left.
- MIT shot 43.5 percent from the field in the half to go along with 9-for-10 shooting at the line. WPI shot 55.6 percent and hit five three-pointers over the first 20 minutes as Todd posted 11 points. Jurko was the top scorer in the period for MIT with 12 points to go along with five assists.
- In the second half, MIT took its first lead of the game on an Einloth layup with 15:07 remaining, but WPI quickly came back as the game was tied at 44-44 with 12:35 on the clock after a reverse layup from Reid Walker. A three from junior Cameron Korb (Los Gatos, Calif.) and an Einloth layup put the Engineers in front for good at 49-44, but the game remained close at 53-50 with 5:59 left.
- MIT briefly stretched the lead out to eight at 58-50, but WPI wasn't done and cut it down to 59-57 with 8.4 seconds remaining. A WPI turnover out of bounds gave MIT the ball back though and four free throws in the final moments sealed the team's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Jurko finished with a team-high 16 points to go along with eight assists and two steals, while Einloth added 12 and freshman Ian Hinkley (Raleigh, N.C.) had 11 points off the bench. Korb was the final Engineer in double figures with 10 points and no turnovers in 40 minutes.
- Walker paced WPI with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Todd had 13 points and seven boards and Downing added 12 points.
- WPI held a 37-29 advantage in rebounding, including a 12-2 margin on the offensive glass. WPI outscored MIT in the paint, 30-24, while the MIT bench held a 31-17 advantage.
- The Engineers are ranked No. 25 in the latest national poll and are also ranked No. 9 in the latest NCAA Northeast Regional Rankings which were released earlier this week.
- MIT now awaits the NCAA Selection Show, which will take place on Monday, February 26th at 12:30 p.m. live on www.ncaa.com.