NORTON, Mass. - Coming from as many as 13 down in the second half to within two with 36 seconds to go, the No. 11 MIT men's basketball team was unable to rally all the way back, falling to Wheaton, 84-77, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Wednesday night. The Lyons connected on 20 of 23 foul shots in the second half, including seven-of-eight in the final minute to secure the win. Mitchell Kates had a solid all-around game with 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Noel Hollingsworth scored 21 points and grabbed 11 boards, his third game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the last four games.
MIT has now lost a pair of games to the Wheaton, who stands at 9-14 and 5-6 in the NEWMAC, but is unbeaten against the rest of Division III on the year. The Engineers' ledger moves to 21-3 overall and 9-2 in conference play.
Trailing by 10 with just over four minutes to go, the Engineers reeled off an 8-2 run, capped by a Jimmy Burke three-pointer with 1:51 remaining, to get within four. Tech nearly forced a Wheaton turnover on the ensuing possession but Anthony Weeks corralled the loose ball and drove to the basket for a layup to put Wheaton back up six. Burke's three-ball at the other end rimmed out and Weeks secured the rebound.
The Lyons went one-of-two on successive trips to the foul line to keep MIT's faint hopes alive. After missing his second free throw with 53 seconds remaining, Kates drew a foul on the rebound and promptly knocked down the two shots to get Tech back within three. Two possessions later, Wheaton was unable to secure the rebound after Kates' miss from three and Hollingsworth drew a three-point play, closing the gap to two with 36 seconds to go. However, Wheaton would make five-of-six from the line down the stretch to secure its second win of the year over MIT.
After the Lyons opened up a 17-11 lead seven and a half minutes into the game, the Cardinal and Grey went on an 18-0 run over the next 6:07 for a 12-point advantage, its largest of the night. Burke knocked down a pair of three's during the stretch and Hollingsworth added six points of his own. Wheaton battled back over the rest of the frame getting within six at the half. The hosts then opened the half with 13 straight points, going up seven before Hollingsworth stopped the run with a layup with 15:58 to go.
Kates tied a career high with eight assists while the 24 points was his second highest total of the year. Burke added 15 points in the losing effort. MIT grabbed 17 offensive rebounds while attempting a season-high 82 shots from the field.
MIT will close out the regular season on Saturday, February 20 at Springfield College. The Engineers will look to wrap up the NEWMAC regular season crown and can do so with a win over the second-place Pride.