PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In an early-season battle of undefeated men's basketball teams, Rhode Island College shut down the MIT offense in the first half as the Anchormen turned a 22-point halftime bulge into a 66-44 victory over the top-ranked Engineers. Senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) scored more than half of MIT's points, finishing with 27 for a second straight game.
It was a close battle between the two teams over the first six and a half minutes of the game. Rhode Island College (5-0) got on the board first on a jump shot by Tom DeCiantis, but the Engineers countered on a trey from Kates to take the 3-2 lead three minutes in. The teams traded baskets until the Anchormen scored four straight, going on top, 9-6, on another DeCiantis basket.
MIT (5-1) closed to 9-8 on a layup by senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) with 13:36 left in the half, but the Engineer offense went cold after that. A three-point shot by Tahrike Carter started a run that saw Rhode Island College outscore MIT 27-6 for the rest of the half. The Engineers hit just two field goals over the final 13 minutes of the half, shooting 2-of-13 and committing seven turnovers. The Anchormen took advantage, pulling away with the help of four three-pointers, the last of which came from Carter with 24 seconds left in the half to give Rhode Island College a 36-14 advantage.
After shooting just 24 percent in the first half, MIT was able to get some shots to fall against the stout Rhode Island College defense. Kates started the half by converting on a three-point play to get the deficit under 20 points. The Anchormen pushed it back over 20, but four straight free throws by sophomore Reinier Strobos (New Braun, Texas) started an 8-0 run for the Engineers.
Sophomore Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) and Kates completed the run with baskets, making it 39-25 with 16:41 left. But it would prove to be as close as the Engineers would get. Rhode Island College made up the eight points MIT had gained with a 10-2 run, pushing its lead back to 22 at 49-27 with 13:32 on the clock after a jumper by Randy Casey.
MIT, which shot 29.8 percent and had 20 turnovers, could not get closer than 20 the rest of the way as it suffered its first defeat of the season. After Kates 27 points, no other Engineer could manage more than four. Tashman led all players with 12 rebounds as MIT held a 36-30 edge on the boards. Rhode Island College had three players finish in double figures, with DeCiantis leading the group with 19. Carter, who hit all four of his three-point attempts, finished with 16 points and five rebounds for the Anchormen.
MIT will host Newbury College in its next game, taking on the Nighthawks on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in Rockwell Cage. Rhode Island College will play its next game on Saturday as well, hosting Plymouth State at 3:00 p.m.