Feb. 11, 2006
WORCESTER, Mass. - Freshman Jimmy Bartolotta scored a career and MIT season-high 31 points as the Engineers (16-7, 6-4) moved one step closer to securing a first-round home game in the NEWMAC Tournament with a 79-75 win at Clark University (9-14, 3-8).
The Cougars jumped out to a 16-7 lead nine minutes into the contest behind the interior efforts of Tim Dutille, but the edge quickly evaporated as sophomore Will Mroz followed Tuesday's comeback with a tremendous first half on the offensive end. Mroz scored 11 consecutive points for MIT including three straight three-point field goals to pace a 16-2 run that pushed the Engineers in front, 23-18. Bartolotta and rookie Adam Juneau added four points a piece in the final moments of the frame, while an off-balance three by Danny Kanamori at the buzzer gave MIT a 32-27 lead at the halftime break.
The Engineers went ahead by 10 early in the second, but Clark answered the run. Pat Ochoa and DJ Brinn hit from deep on back-to-back possessions as the Cougars slashed the lead to 44-42 with 12 minutes left in the game.
In a game in which the Engineers received contributions all the way down the bench, junior Alex Krull provided some cushion to the once-sizable lead with five straight points while Phil Murray dropped in four points to extend MIT's advantage back to nine with eight minutes to play. The Cougars rallied again and sliced the lead to 68-67 with four minutes still on the board, but eight consecutive points by Bartolotta, including three lay-ups, sealed the second straight win for MIT hoops.
"It was a tremendous team effort" said assistant coach Oli Eslinger. "Our minutes were balanced because everyone was contributing. Clark is a great basketball team, and although they continued to fight back, our guys stayed resilient and never relinquished the lead."
Bartolotta's 31 points was the highest single-game total for an MIT player since Kyle Doherty finished with 33 points on February 9, 2002. Ironically, Doherty recorded his 30-point effort at Clark.
"It's nice to know that we have other players that can step up and have big games," added Eslinger. "We have several guys that can finish and we change our approach depending on what the defense is giving us."
Mroz finished with 11 points, including a 3-of-4 effort from beyond the arc in scoring double figures for the second straight game since returning from a foot injury. Phil Murray was the only other player to score in double digits for MIT, adding 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting one game after setting a career-high with 23.
Krull chipped in nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, but the real story was the balance in scoring and playing time for the Cardinal and Gray. The Engineers' bench totaled 26 points, while 10 players saw at least 12 minutes of action.
MIT won for the first time this season in a game in which it was out-gained on the boards. Behind Dutille's game-high 14 rebounds, Clark secured a 40-31 edge on the glass. Dutille also scored a team-best 24 points, while Cory Szklarz pitched in 18.