February 11, 2012

Men's Basketball Clinches NEWMAC Regular Season Title with 63-60 Overtime Win at Clark

WORCESTER, Mass. – No. 5 MIT withstood a late rally by Clark University to win, 63-60, in overtime in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball play on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Engineers improve to 10-1 in the conference and secure their second NEWMAC regular season title in three years. Tech's 22nd victory in 23 games this season ensures that it will host the conference semifinals and championship in two weeks.

The Cardinal and Gray outscored the host Cougars, 11-8, in the extra session to hold on after allowing Clark to come back from as many as 14-down in the second half. Clark, meanwhile, drops its second straight overtime game this week to slip to 10-12 overall and 3-7 in league play.

Junior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) once again led MIT with 16 points to go along with five assists. Senior Billy Bender (The Woodlands, Texas) had 12 points including a key overtime three-pointer. Freshman Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) came up big off the bench for the Cardinal and Gray with 11 points.

Bender's three with 16:30 to play gave MIT a 33-19 lead, its largest of the afternoon. Clark slowly chipped away at the margin, getting within four, at 37-33, but Kates scored four straight points and senior Daniel McCue (Hampden, Maine) knocked down a three-ball to push the advantage back to double figures.

Another Kates' layup at the 6:35 mark put Tech ahead by 11 but Clark would outscore the Engineers, 12-2, over the next 4:49, capped by Mitch Renshaw's (Rutland, Mass.) three-pointer to make it 50-49 with 1:46 to play. The teams exchanged baskets on the next two possessions before D.J. Bailey (Palmer, Mass.) made the second of two free throws to tie things at 52 with 32 seconds left. Neither team could convert at the end of regulation, sending the game into the extra session.

Senior Noel Hollingsworth (Salt Lake City, Utah) opened the extra session with a layup and Renshaw responded with a jumper at the other end to tie the game at 54. Hollingsworth then found Bender, who knocked down a huge shot from long range, and Kates' steal and layup put the Cardinal and Gray on top by five. Clark would get back within one, thanks to a pair of trifectas by Travis Curley (Trumbull, Conn.), but the Engineers made free throws down the stretch to hold on for their first overtime victory of the season.

Tech held a 41-31 advantage on the boards, led by junior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) with 13 caroms, and outscored the Cougars, 28-20, in points in the paint.

MIT will return to Worcester for its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, February 15, facing WPI at 7:00 p.m.