CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, MIT kicked off the men's basketball season this evening with a convincing, 82-49, win on the road against Lesley University. Senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) led an MIT offense that shot 53 percent with 22 points, finishing as one of four Engineers in double figures in the contest. And with his first basket in the second half, senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) became the 26th player in MIT history to reach 1,000 points in the victory.
Freshman Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) hit the first shot of his collegiate career, a three-pointer less than a minute in to give MIT the early 3-0 advantage. Sophomore Justin Rosa hit a jumper to answer for Lesley, but a put-back by senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) and a pair of free throws from senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) put MIT up 7-2 two and a half minutes in.
MIT (1-0), which never trailed in the game, led by just two at 9-7 after a three-point shot by Lesley senior Matt Gibson at the 15:48 mark. Kates answered the trey with one of his own on the next trip down the floor, igniting a 14-3 MIT run over the next four minutes. Kates wound up with eight of the 14 points in the stretch, with his steal and ensuing basket giving the Engineers a 23-10 lead midway through the first half.
Lesley (0-1) struggled to solve the MIT defense in the opening 20 minutes, as the Lynx shot just 24 percent from the floor in the half. The lead was still 13 after a pair of free throws from junior Kris Bennett, but MIT extended the advantage to 20 with seven quick points. Lesley tried to close the half on a run, scoring four straight to cut the MIT advantage to 16, but the Engineers put in the last seven points of the half, four from sophomore Dennis Levine (Weston, Conn.), as they built a 42-19 lead.
MIT slowly continued to expanded its lead in the second half, moving it out to 29 points at 51-22 five minutes in after a 5-0 run that was finished off by a Tashman free throw. Lesley answered with five straight, getting three-pointer from junior Mike Kaufman, but Burke counted that with a trey and the Lynx could not put together more than five consecutive points the rest of the way.
Keyed by five points from Pedley, who finished with 13 for the night, MIT pushed its lead to its biggest of the night at 77-41 with three minutes left. That was more than enough for the Engineers, who picked up a win in their first game of the season for a fifth straight year.
Burke put in 19 points in his first action since his freshman season, hitting on six of 11 three-point attempts. Tashman added 15 points and shared game-high honors in rebounds with sophomore Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) and Levine with six. Kates completed his solid first outing of the season with eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. Rosa led Lesley with 15 points, with Kaufman adding 11 and leading the team with four rebounds. The Engineers outshot the Lynx 53 percent to 37 percent, and also held a 37-23 rebounding advantage.
MIT play again on Saturday when it travels to Gordon College for a 6:00 p.m. game. Lesley will be back in action tomorrow as it plays at Roger Williams at 6:00 p.m.