Feb. 17, 2007
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Sophomore Jimmy Bartolotta put an emphatic exclamation point on his second regular season, but his heroics weren't quite enough as Clark rallied late to defeat MIT, 81-73, Saturday afternoon, in Rockwell Cage. The Engineers hosted their largest crowd of the season against the Cougars as many in attendance came to help support MIT legend Fran O'Brien, who was honored at halftime after receiving an induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
Clark (11-13, 5-7 NEWMAC) is now set to host the first round of the conference tournament after winning a post-game coin toss. The Engineers (13-12, 5-7) and Cougars were even in the league standings, despite exhausting the tie-breaking procedure, so it should have come as no surprise that Saturday's finale was undecided until the final moments of the game.
There were 13 lead changes and 11 ties in the league battle, although Clark benefited from a deep rotation that included 12 players. Led by rookie Mark Alexander's 17, the Cougars had five players in double figures. Byron Roberts sparked Clark off the bench with 14 points, while Slader Lyell added 11. The Cougars bench outscored MIT, 39-0.
Freshman Erich Bracht scored on a jumper with 4:44 left in regulation to give MIT a 69-64 lead, but the Cougars outscored the Cardinal and Gray, 16-4, the rest of the way. Clark connected from three-point range on three consecutive possessions to move from three down to six up with three minutes left on the board. Roberts was 4-of-4 from deep and his final triple helped seal the win. Bartolotta converted two free throws to bring MIT within four, but Lyell drained two jumpers and a pair of free throws to cap the scoring.
Bartolotta finished with a game-high 32 points on 9-of-12 shooting. The sophomore standout closed 14-of-14 at the free throw line, while adding nine rebounds, seven assists, a block and a career-high six steals.
Bracht was solid in his final regular-season outing as a rookie, scoring 22 points and hauling down a game-high 11 rebounds en route to his 10th double-double of the season. Playing in his final career home game, senior Alex Krull added 13 points.
In the last two games, the Engineers are 51-of-54 (94.4%) at the free-throw line, but MIT has struggled from outside the arc and finished 0-of-7 from three-point range against Clark. On the other hand, the Cougars, who shot just 55% from the charity stripe, finished 12-of-23 from three-point land and used their momentum from the outside to secure the No. 4 seed in next week's tournament.