February 16, 2011

MIT Falls Victim to Hot Shooting of Wheaton in 80-72 Setback

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – League scoring leader, Anthony Coppola scored 30 of his 41 points in the second half to help Wheaton College knock off MIT, 80-72, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action on Wednesday evening. Will Tashman finished with a team-high 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Engineers, who fell to 16-8 on the season and 6-5 in conference play. The Lyons (8-15, 3-8 NEWMAC) remain alive for a berth in the five-team NEWMAC tournament, which begins next week.

Mitchell Kates had six assists to go along with 14 points and Jamie Karraker added 15 points, on five-of-10 shooting from long-range. The Engineers also held a 39-29 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds.

Coppola, who went three-for-three from behind the arc and 12-of-13 from the foul line, added four rebounds and six steals. Brendan Degnan (13) and Brian Grossman (10) also finished in double-figures for the Lyons, who shot 50.0% from the field and 41.2% (7-17) from three.

With his team leading by three with a minute and a half to go, Coppola stole the ball from Eric Zuk near midcourt and raced down for a lay-up before being fouled by Zuk. The officials awarded Wheaton two shots and possession, which resulted in four more points, all scored by Coppola, and gave the Lyons a 75-66 lead. Coppola would knock down five-of-six from the line down the stretch, accounting for his team's last 11 points, to secure the upset victory.

Tech jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, thanks to four points apiece for Tashman and Kates, before being outscored 15-2 over the next 4:48. Back-to-back buckets by Will Dickson brought the hosts back within three. Wheaton's first-half lead would swell to as many as nine before MIT closed out the frame on a 12-3 spurt of its own.

Neither team lead by more than six in the second half before Coppola's six-point play put the visitors on top by nine with 1:28 to go.

Despite the loss, MIT clinched one of the top three seeds in the NEWMAC tournament and, as a result, will receive a bye into the semifinals. This Saturday's season finale against Springfield will serve as a preview of that semifinal match-up. The Engineers host the Pride on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Wheaton closes its regular season out at home against Coast Guard at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, in a game that will go a long way in determining the final postseason bid.