January 6, 2007

Engineers' Rally Falls Short; Springfield Nips MIT, 57-56

Jan. 6, 2007

Box Score

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT (6-6, 0-1 NEWMAC) erased a 16-point deficit in the second half only to lose Saturday's conference opener with back-to-back miscues inside the final five seconds of regulation. After the Engineers rebounded what seemed to be Springfield's final attempt of the game, a foot on the base line gave the ball back to the Pride. On the ensuing play, Jamaal Gibbs drew a foul with one second left on an attempt from behind the arc. Although the junior guard connected on just the middle attempt, it proved to be enough as the Pride (6-7, 1-0) escaped Rockwell Cage with a 57-56 win.

Senior Damian Farley scored 17 points to lead the Springfield attack, although rookie Pat Crean was periodically dominant as he totaled 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including several one-handed finishes in the paint.

MIT sophomore Jimmy Bartolotta paced all players with 18 points and 10 rebounds en route to his fourth double-double of the season. Senior Alex Krull and freshman Erich Bracht also reached double figures for the Cardinal and Gray. Krull was instrumental in the second-half comeback and closed with 14 points, while Bracht was 4-of-5 from the field en route to 11 points and seven rebounds.

Crean's first three-point field goal midway through the opening half gave Springfield a lead it wouldn't relinquish until the closing minutes of the tilt. The Engineers turned the ball over 14 times in the frame and went ice cold from the field as Springfield stretched a 15-13 lead at the eight-minute mark with an 18-4 run to close the half. Farley capped the run with a three as time expired and the Pride went to the locker room boasting a 33-17 lead.

MIT closed the gap to 10 several times in the first part of the second half, but Springfield answered with an offense that saw eight different players add to the score sheet. Another three by Crean put the Pride in front, 42-29, with 12 minutes on the board, but the Engineers refused to go away and slowly chipped away at the sizable deficit.

Bartolotta, Krull and Patrick Sissman converted on shots from beyond the three-point line during a 15-4 run in a five-minute stretch midway through the period. After leaving the game temporarily with a cut above his eye, Bartolotta was especially impressive in the surge and scored seven straight at one point during the run.

MIT finally knotted the score with 2:01 remaining on another jumper by Bartolotta. Despite relinquishing the lead, Springfield kept its composure down the stretch and stayed in front with four consecutive points from Farley. A sweet step-back by Gibbs with 1:01 left in the game stretched the Pride's lead to 56-50, but MIT once again battled back.

Bracht converted a traditional three-point play after drawing contact on a lay-up before MIT got the ball back with a chance to tie following a Springfield turnover. With 10 seconds left in the game, Krull buried a three after a kick-out by Bradley Gampel to set up the furious finish.

Springfield forced MIT into 24 turnovers and scored 27 points off the mistakes. Saturday's game marked the second consecutive one-point battle between these evenly matched conference rivals. In last year's regular-season finale, MIT scored with two seconds left to upend the Pride at Springfield, 62-61.