Feb. 25, 2006
WPI Sports Information
WORCESTER, Mass. - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology reached the championship of the NEWMAC Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time in the program's history with an impressive, 69-57, victory over the United State Coast Guard Academy in a semifinal game played at Harrington Auditorium in Worcester. The Engineers led by 23 points with five minutes left in regulation, before coasting to a program-record 20th win. MIT (20-7) will take on top-seeded host WPI (21-3), an 81-67 winner versus fourth-seeded Wheaton, in the championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The first half was a back and forth affair that featured five lead changes and eight ties. MIT used a 13-4 spurt late in the half to take a 38-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime. After a three-pointer by Coast Guard's Jeff Prebeck to open the second half, the Engineers rattled off eight straight to extend the lead to 46-33 with 15 minutes remaining. From that point forward, the Bears were only able to cut the deficit to single digits once.
Senior Mike D'Auria paced MIT with 17 points, while Jimmy Bartolotta added 14 and Alex Krull came off the bench to tally 11. Danny Kanamori added six points and a game-best six assists, while sophomore Hamidou Soumare contributed seven points and seven rebounds. Soumare electrified the crowd with an eye-popping two-handed dunk during a key first half run.
Prebeck led all scorers with 23 points for Coast Guard, including netting 9-of-10 free throw attempts. Al Sowers added 12 points, while Craig Johnson tallied nine points while adding five rebounds, four assists and four steals. The Bears drop to 17-8 on the season and await word on a possible ECAC Tournament berth.
With the victory, MIT reaches the 20-win milestone for the first time in the program's 105-year history. MIT and WPI played two tight contests during the regular season with WPI emerging victorious both times by a grand total of three points.
Sunday's championship game will available as a video webcast from Penn Atlantic. The webcast is the first of its kind in the NEWMAC. A link will be available on Sunday morning at www.newmaconline.com. Those with dial-up will be able to get audio of the webcast at www.d3hoops.com/audio.