Bench Play Lifts Western Connecticut Past MIT, 83-77, In Season Opener
Nov. 17, 2007
BOSTON, Mass. - Point guard Tyshawn Gillespie posted team high's of 17 points and four assists to lead Western Connecticut to a 83-77 victory over MIT in the opening round of the Emmanuel College Tip-Off Tournament. The Engineers received sizeable contributions from Jimmy Bartolotta, Billy Johnson and Hamidou Soumare, but couldn't offset the Colonials' balanced attack and a 40-5 advantage off the bench.
Saturday's season-opener was tight throughout and featured 11 ties and 11 lead changes. The largest lead of the tilt by either team was a seven-point advantage for the Colonials, which MIT quickly reduced to four after a three by Bartolotta midway through the second half. The Engineers' biggest edge of the evening was five with 13 minutes left in the first period.
After battling to a 33-33 tie through the first 20 minutes, both teams picked up the pace in the second frame. Bartolotta, who scored 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, kept MIT in contention during a wild second half. The junior from Littleton, Colo., filled the stat sheet with nine rebounds, five assists and two steals despite having an unusually difficult night at the charity stripe.
Johnson paced all scorers with a career-high 26 points after finishing 8-of-17 from the floor and 9-of-9 at the free-throw line. Making a much-anticipated return to the lineup after studying abroad last season, Hamidou Soumare closed with 16 points and a game-best 12 rebounds.
With the Engineers attempting to even the score and time running out in the second half, Western Connecticut guard Dashon Jennings connected on three consecutive baskets from beyond the arc to keep the MIT offense at bay. Jennings finished with 11 points and three assists. Jaime Procino added 14 points and Kyle Norfleet chipped in 12, while 10 players contributed to the overall effort.