Nov. 23, 2008
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The third time was a charm for the Milwaukee School of Engineering. After falling in the championship of its own Engineers Classic the past two tries, the Raiders broke through with a sensational effort en route to a 69-64 victory over MIT on Sunday. Jamel Sabree, who enjoyed a nearly flawless game, was named Most Valuable Player as MSOE improved to 2-0 to start the 2008-09 campaign.
The Engineers (2-2) were unable to match the Raiders’ intensity throughout most of the contest, and despite grabbing a four-point lead midway through the second half, MIT was unable to sustain the momentum in the waning moments of the battle. Ahead 62-59 with just over one minute left in regulation, Sabree delivered a crushing blow with a lay-up and foul that pushed MSOE ahead by six. Jimmy Batolotta responded with his fourth three of the game to pull the Engineers back within one possession, but Jeremy Off sealed the win for the Raiders with a pair of free throws on the other end.
For the fourth consecutive game, Bartolotta scored at least 20 by finishing with a team-best 21 points. The Engineers boasted four players in double-figures, including Billy Johnson, who scored 18 on 6-of-9 shooting while grabbing seven boards. Hamidou Soumare chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds while Eric Zuk added 10, all in the second half.
Sabree authored a monsterous performance in the paint, scoring a game-high 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting while closing 9-of-10 at the line. Off added 21 on 5-of-6 shooting and 10-of-12 at the charity stripe. He also hauled in 11 caroms off the glass. MSOE benefitted by a commanding advantage at the free-throw line. The Raiders closed 25-of-34 as a team while MIT finished 12-of-20.
The Engineers, who entered Sunday’s championship averaging 15 steals per game, were held to a season-low five steals as well as a season-low two blocks. For the third straight game, MIT was out-rebounded as the Raiders held a 28-24 edge on the boards.
MSOE led for most of the first half while seven consecutive points by Sabree pushed the Raiders in front, 23-14, with seven minutes left in the frame. Billy Johnson, who answered with eight straight points on a pair of three’s and a fast-break lay-in was terrific offensively for MIT as the Engineers closed the deficit to 26-23. Despite the push, Sabree once again extended the advantage while Off drilled a triple in the closing seconds as MIT surrendered a basket on its opponents’ last possession of the first half for the third consecutive game.
Trailing by as many as eight in the second stanza, MIT’s bench powered the Engineers to their first lead of the night midway through the half. After Johnson converted a traditional three-point play, Patrick Sissman canned a mid-range jumper from the left wing and Zuk knocked down a three from the corner. A pair of free throws by Bartolotta and another three by Zuk gave MIT a 49-45 lead with 10:24 left to play, but the Raiders tied the game following two unforced turnovers. Luke Larson’s jumper with 4:49 on the clock gave MSOE a 56-54 lead and put the hosts ahead for good as the teams traded baskets down the stretch.