MIT Sprints Ahead Early; Tops Lesley, 77-60
Jan. 5, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT opened its final non-conference game of the regular season with a 19-0 run before cruising past Lesley University, 77-60, on Saturday in Rockwell Cage. The Engineers benefited from a hot shooting touch in the first half and a dominating effort on the glass to improve to 5-0 at home.
Senior Will Mroz, who finished the afternoon with a season-high 16 points, did all of his damage in the first half including two three-point field goals in the opening minute of the game. Billy Johnson added five points early, as MIT's (8-4) advantage over Lesley (3-7) swelled to 19 points just four minutes into the tilt.
The Lynx clawed back into the game from beyond the arc as Mark Stevens, Matt Grassa and Dana Datillo all connected from deep. Another jumper by Stevens with 3:39 left in the half tightened the score to 40-28, but the Cardinal and Gray scored four answered points to end the half.
MIT's strong attack vanished in the early part of the second half while tremendous defensive pressure enabled the Lynx to further reduce the Engineers' sizable advantage. Jesus Trejo provided Lesley with a low-post presence absent from the first half, and three baskets in the paint to jump-start the second stanza sliced MIT's lead to 46-37 with 14 minutes to go.
Despite the rally, the Engineers proved to be too strong at both ends of the floor. Lay-ups by Hamidou Soumare, Jimmy Bartolotta and Bradley Gampel extended the lead back to double figures while a three by rookie Daniel McCue moved MIT in front, 73-51, with three minutes remaining on the clock. Lesley scored the last six points of the game with three finishes in the paint, but not before MIT sealed its second consecutive win heading into NEWMAC play.
"It was great to see us shoot so well at the start of the game," said Mroz. "We didn't play well defensively in the second half and we abandoned our point guards too often during the press, but we know where we need to improve. I know we're already eager to get back at it next week."
Bartolotta led all scorers with 22 points while adding 10 rebounds to secure the double-double. Bartolotta, who was 8-of-17 from the floor but only 1-of-6 outside, added five assists, a block and a steal. Soumare finished with seven points in a modest offensive effort, but the big man grabbed 15 caroms off the glass and blocked four shots. Gampel also enjoyed a solid afternoon, scoring 11 points while dishing out a game-high seven assists and forcing four steals.
Jermain Harris scored 10 points and was the only Lesley player to reach double digits. Joseph Chatman, Jon Cruz, Stevens and Trejo each chipped in eight points. Harris had eight boards to pace the Lynx on the glass as well, although MIT finished the game with a commanding 51-32 rebounding edge.