February 28, 2009

Engineers Ride Defense Past Babson in NEWMAC Semifinal, 50-39

Feb. 28, 2009

Box Score

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – For most of the season the success of MIT men’s basketball has been defined by outstanding outside shooting and an efficient offense. Caught in a defensive struggle in the semifinals of the NEWMAC Championship Tournament on Saturday, the Engineers held Babson College to one field goal in the last eight minutes en route to a 50-39 victory and their second appearance in the conference title game in four years.

Ahead 37-32 with 7:46 left in regulation, Babson (13-14) senior star Zach Etten was whistled for his fourth foul of the game. The call proved to be devastating as MIT (19-8) closed the game on an 18-2 run.

Senior Jimmy Bartolotta scored a game-tying high and season-low 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting to lead the Engineers. For the second game in a row, freshman Jamie Karraker knocked down several timely outside shots to finish with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. With defense proving to be the critical factor in Saturday’s tilt, senior Bradley Gampel authored the night’s top performance. Scoring nine points, while adding five rebounds and four assists, Gampel set a single-game Institute record with eight steals.

The Beavers were paced by Etten, who scored 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Rookie forward Kris Noonan added 10 points and a game-best 11 rebounds for the double-double. The season’s third battle between these teams featured eight ties and seven lead changes with both squads shooting well below 40% for the game.

MIT, which turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, committed just three turnovers in the second frame to fuel the late rally.

The Engineers led for most of the first half and were up 20-17 at the break, but five quick points by Babson to open the second half kept MIT on the defensive until the pivotal closing stretch.