CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Billy Bender had a pair of clutch three-pointers, one at the end of regulation and one in overtime, to help lead the MIT men's basketball team to a 78-73 win over Gordon College in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon at Rockwell Cage. Noel Hollingsworth led the way for the Engineers with 28 points and seven rebounds before fouling out late in regulation. Tech won its eighth straight and is now off to the best start in program history while Gordon falls to 4-3 with the loss.
With his team trailing by three with just 42 seconds remaining, Bender took a pass in the corner from Mitchell Kates and drained the game-tying bucket. After the Fighting Scots were whistled for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession, Billy Johnson had a chance to end it in regulation but was unable to knock down the three-point attempt.
A Greg Walker layup 24 seconds into the overtime gave Gordon a 70-68 lead. The teams traded turnovers before Jimmy Burke nailed another trifecta to put Tech back on top by one. David Dempsey missed a pair of free throws on the next possession, setting up another three-ball from Bender to extend the Crimson and Gray's lead to four. Kates made a driving layup the next time down the court to put the game out of reach.
MIT scored the game's first 10 points, capped by a layup from Kates, over the opening 4:21. A Brady Bajema three-pointer just over a minute later trimmed the lead to just three. However, the Engineers responded with a 7-0 run to go back up by double digits. The Tech lead would grow to as many as 11 with 5:48 to go in the first but the Scots were able to battle back to within three at the break, as Bajema scored 10 of their last 11 in the half.
Benjamin Gaskill converted a layup and the foul shot on opening possession of the second half to even things up at 36. A three by Aaron Trigg with 7:53 remaining gave Gordon its first lead of the game, 56-54. The Scots would score eight of their final 12 from the foul line, including another and-one by Gaskill with 1:18 on the clock, setting up Bender's heroics.
Kates, 15 points, Burke, 11, and Bender, 13 points, joined Hollingsworth in double figures. Kates also added five assists while Bender had six boards. The Engineers shot 46% from behind the arc, as both Bender and Burke went three-for-five.
Bajema and Trigg each tallied 20 points for the Scots and Gaskill contributed a double-double of 11points and 10 rebounds.
MIT will be back in action on Tuesday night, traveling to UMass-Boston for a 7:00 p.m. start. Gordon hosts Wheelock College on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. as well.