March 1, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - One day after being signaled as the 2006 NEWMAC Player of the Year, senior Mike D'Auria carried the Engineers on the offensive end with a game-high 22 points as No. 2 seed MIT (21-8) pushed past No. 7 Plymouth State University (16-11), 60-55, in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Tournament. With the win, the Cardinal and Gray will travel to Norton, Mass., to face NEWMAC rival and No. 6 seed Wheaton College, which advanced with an 82-65 win over No. 3 Emmanuel College.
The Panthers jumped out to leads of 7-1 and 11-6 with a solid perimeter attack, but six consecutive points from D'Auria equaled the score at 10:10 of the first half. On the Engineers ensuing possession, Will Mroz finished on a baseline drive as MIT grabbed a 15-13 lead. Kevin Boutilier answered for PSU on its next possession to deliver the first of five ties during the final seven minutes of the half. Neither unit led by more than four points the rest of the way. Plymouth State junior Mike Walcek nailed a three with 21 seconds left in the period to close the books on the first half scoring and give the Panthers a 31-29 edge at the break.
The Engineers asserted control early in the second half, but were unable to take advantage on the offensive end. Tremendous defensive pressure forced PSU into three consecutive turnovers, while nearly seven minutes fell off the clock before the Panthers scored their first field goal of the frame. The Engineers scored the first 11 points of the half, while senior Danny Kanamori hit a three to cap the run with 14:11 left in regulation. The deep bucket gave MIT a 40-31 lead; it's largest of the night.
After a timeout by Plymouth State head coach John Scheinman, the Panthers responded with a 12-4 run. Mark Dunham concluded the comeback with a triple from the corner to give PSU a 45-44 lead with 9:34 to go. D'Auria answered for MIT with a deuce on the next trip down the floor, while Alex Krull connected for one of Tech's 3 three-point field goals to extend the margin to four.
While MIT shot a season-low 17.6% (3-of-17) from beyond the arc, the deep ball kept the Panthers in contention. Plymouth State grabbed its final lead of the night when Brandon Boggs and Mark Dunham knocked down back-to-back three's, the second coming with 3:49 still on the clock.
Trailing, 55-53, the Engineers attacked the basket and were rewarded as D'Auria and rookie Jimmy Bartolotta combined for six straight free throws to swing the game back in MIT's favor, 59-55. Plymouth State missed its final four shots, which all came from three-point range as MIT secured its first win ever in the ECAC Tournament.
D'Auria finished 8-of-8 from the free-throw line and 7-of-14 from the floor, while dishing out five assists. Kanamori also had five feeds, in addition to seven points and a game-best four steals. Bartolotta and Krull each chipped in eight, while sophomore Hamidou Soumare continued a strong late-season surge with a career-high 16 rebounds and four points on 2-of-2 shooting.
Dunham paced four PSU players in double-figures with 14 points. Mike Walcek added 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight boards. Boutilier dropped in 12 from the middle, while Boggs finished with 11 points and five assists. Phil Bourassa led all players with six dimes.