NORTON, Mass. – It was the start of New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference play for the MIT men's basketball team this afternoon and the Engineers kicked things off with a solid effort, rolling past Wheaton by a final of 84-47. Senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) scored 20 points and sophomore Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) established a new career best with 19 points to help MIT improve to 10-2 and 1-0 in the NEWMAC. Wheaton fell to 6-5 and 0-1 with the loss.
MIT did most of its damage in the paint in its first game of 2013, outscoring Wheaton by a significant 52-18 margin. The first points of the game for the Engineers, however, came from behind the arc as freshman Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) nailed a trey to give MIT a lead that they would never relinquish. The Engineers jumped out to a 10-2 lead three and a half minutes in after a pair of Redfield free throws, but the Lyons responded with some long-range shots. Three-pointers from Mike O'Loughlin and Scott Faucher keyed a 9-2 run by Wheaton that brought the Lyons back to within a point at 12-11 when Faucher's shot fell through at the 13:27 mark.
That would be as close as Wheaton would get for the rest of the game, however, as MIT responded and took control of the contest with a 13-3 run. Redfield started the burst with a layup and when senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) canned a pair of free throws four minutes later MIT had extended its lead to 25-13. Wheaton cut it down to an eight-point deficit on a jumper by Will Bayliss with eight minutes left in the half, but the Engineers scored seven straight points, four by Kates, to open up a 15-point advantage.
Wheaton, which shot just 30 percent in the game, could not get any closer the rest of the half as it made just four field goals over the last eight minutes. The Lyons were also hampered by fouls as they tried to stop the inside game of the Engineers, who took advantage by hitting on 16-of-19 free throw attempts as they went on to a 41-26 halftime lead.
MIT did not let up in the second half, quickly building its lead to 21 points by outscoring Wheaton 10-4 over the first three minutes of the half. A layin by Kates made it 51-30 at the 17:17 mark and the Lyons could come up with an answer as the Engineers continued to pound the ball inside. Wheaton did come up with back-to-back baskets from O'Loughlin and Eddie Capstick to cut MIT's lead to 17 points, but a basket by Burke with 12:45 to play pushed the Engineers' lead to 21 points at 57-26 and MIT saw its advantage hold at 20 points or better the rest of the way.
Sophomore Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) came off the bench to hit on all seven of his field goal attempts to help MIT to a 60 percent shooting performance, finishing with a career best 15 points along with six rebounds. Senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) recorded his second straight double-double, and sixth of the season, with an 11-point, 12 rebound night. Kates dished out six assists to go along with his 20-point afternoon to lead all players. Wheaton did not get a double-digit scorer, with O'Loughlin leading the Lyons with nine points. Mike Cannon led Wheaton with seven rebounds, adding eight points and a steal to his totals.
MIT will continue on the road to start conference play in its next outing, traveling to Springfield College for a game on Tuesday, January 8 at 7:00 p.m. Wheaton will travel to Clark University for its next game, taking on the Cougars on Thursday, January 10 at 3:00 p.m.