Men's Hoops Takes Conference Opener at Wheaton, 76-65

Jan. 7, 2009

Box Score

Courtesy Wheaton Sports Information

NORTON, Mass. – MIT rode a hot touch from the outside in dealing Wheaton College its fifth loss in its last six games in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) league opener for both schools on Wednesday in Emerson Gymnasium. The Engineers picked up a 76-65 victory while improving to 8-4 on the season. With the loss, the Lyons slipped to 7-6.

Wheaton grabbed its lone lead of the game after just 26 seconds, as sophomore Ryan Sasso jumped out of bounds to secure a steal before firing a crosscourt pass while in midair to classmate Anthony Coppola, who was streaking up the far sideline and eventually found the hoop.

From that point, MIT used accurate first-half shooting to jump out in front and, after a Coppola free throw at 16:25 brought the hosts within 8-6, the Engineers scored 12 of the next 14 points thanks to four three-point possessions to grab a 20-8 advantage. Senior Jimmy Bartolotta converted a three-point play before burying a trey during the run.

After a Bartolotta long-range shot made the score 25-12 at 9:39, the Lyons responded with 11 straight points behind scoring from four different players to edge within 25-23 by the seven-minute mark. MIT maintained its lead until a Coppola lay-up and pair of free throws in the final minute drew the teams even at 31, but senior Billy Johnson buried a long three with five seconds remaining in the half to give the Engineers a 34-31 edge at the break. MIT shot 63.2 percent in the opening stanza, but gave up six offensive rebounds and committed 14 turnovers as the Lyons stayed close.

Wheaton twice crept within a pair of points in the second stanza, both thanks to points from freshman Anthony Weeks. Two Coppola freebies reduced the deficit to 45-42 with 15:40 to go, but the Engineers put the game out of reach behind a 14-0 run over a 3:39 stretch. The game became a free-throw shooting contest toward the end, when Wheaton narrowed its deficit to seven points three times, but the Engineers shot 15-of-20 from the charity stripe to account for all of their points over the final 5:35.

Coppola led the Blue and White with 17 points and four assists while going 7-of-8 on free throws, while Weeks turned in 15 points and five rebounds off the bench. Sasso was 8-of-8 from the charity stripe en route to 14 points, as the Lyons shot 20-of-22 as a team on freebies.

MIT, which shot 52.3 percent and went 9-of-19 from beyond the arc, was led by Bartolotta's 27 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Johnson added 18 points and nine caroms, while freshman Jamie Karraker hit four threes, finishing with 18 points. Senior Bradley Gampel tallied a game-best eight assists.