Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information
MEDFORD, Mass. - With five players scoring in double figures, the 15th-ranked MIT men's basketball team remained undefeated against Division III opponents with a 71-59 victory at Tufts University on Tuesday night at Cousens Gymnasium.
Host Tufts looked as though it may spring an upset, jumping out to a 24-11 lead on the strength of two three-pointers by Dan Cook, good for his six first-half points. Halfway through the first half, Tufts led by 13, its biggest advantage of the game, but MIT started to slowly chip away. Steals and fast breaks allowed the Engineers to climb back into the game, and senior Billy Johnson went four for six from three-point land during the first 20 minutes, including a big shot to tie the game at 26-26 with 5:45 remaining until halftime. Johnson had 12 points to lead MIT in the first half.
Both teams shot well in the first frame, with the Jumbos just two percentage points below
the 50 percent mark at 12 for 25, and MIT two points above it at 14 for 27. Senior tri-captain Jon Pierce led Tufts with eight points in the first half, but the visitors went into the locker room with a four-point lead at 34-30.
Capitalizing on its momentum from staging a late first-half comeback, MIT came out with a burst in the second half. This time they looked to sophomore Noel Hollingsworth for offensive production and interior power. Hollingsworth led MIT with 16 points and 13 boards overall. Freshman Jimmy Burke also found his touch from downtown, capping a 12-1 run to put MIT up 53-42 at the 10:09 mark. Burke hit three shots from deep that consistently killed off any chances of a home team comeback. The Engineers shot 41 percent from behind the arc on the evening (9-22), and finished at 50 percent (25-50) overall.
Late three-pointers by senior Dave Beyel were not enough to pull Tufts to within anything better than a seven-point deficit. The senior forward led Tufts in points with 20 and in rebounds with eight, while adding pairs of steals and assists in 34 minutes. Freshman Scott Anderson contributed 12 points and six boards in the effort, while Pierce finished with 10 points.
Freshman point guard Mitchell Kates played 39 minutes and put up 13 points with six assists for the winners. MIT improves to an impressive 12-1 mark, and next plays Saturday, January 9 at Babson in their first conference game of the year in a 3:00 p.m. contest. The only loss for the Engineers came against Division I foe Harvard on December 28.
The Jumbos fall to 2-7 on the season, and will travel to UMass Boston on Thursday night.