CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – It was a wild night in the Rockwell Cage where the No. 22 MIT men's basketball team claimed at least a share of the regular season New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference title with a 69-60 upset over No. 5 WPI. Sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) came off the bench to hit on 6-of-8 three-point attempts and led the Engineers with a career-high 20 points. Sophomore Marco Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) led all scorers with 22 points for WPI.
Defense was the name of the game early on as both teams combined to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. WPI (21-2, 9-2 NEWMAC) had an early 6-2 advantage after a jumper by junior Ryan Kolb (Southington, Conn.) at the 16:22 mark. Two minutes later a three-point shot by senior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) gave MIT its first lead of the night at 7-6. Three-point shooting proved to be a crucial factor as MIT hit on 9-of-17 attempts, while WPI struggled with its long-range shooting, hitting on just 3-of-21 attempts.
MIT twice pushed its advantage to six points, holding a 16-10 lead after a Kates layup at the 6:04 mark. WPI came back with six straight to tie things up on a layup by Coppola, who hit a trey on the Engineers next trip down the floor that tied things up again at 19-19. MIT responded with a 8-2 run to end the half, getting threes from Pedley and senior James Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.) to take a 27-21 lead at the half.
Over the first five minutes of the second half MIT slowly built a 10-point advantage, going up 40-30 on a Pedley trey. MIT still led by 10 with 14:08 left when WPI saw Kolb go on a personal 5-0 run that made it 43-38 with 12:46 to go. MIT pushed its lead back to 10, again on a Pedley trey, midway through the final 20 minutes. WPI could make little headway at that point and MIT moved out to its biggest lead of the game at 60-46 on a bucket by Kates with six minutes left.
With a pair of starters on the bench with four fouls, MIT saw WPI slowly inch its way back into the game over the next five minutes. Coppola and Kolb led the charge with six points apiece, leading the Engineers on a 14-5 run. Coppola finished it with a layup with a minute left that brought WPI back to within five at 65-60.
Pressing, WPI picked up a steal by Kolb on the next MIT possession, but a three by freshman Zach Karalis (North Andover, Mass.) was off the mark. WPI missed its final two shot attempts as well, and a pair of free throws by Pedley and Kates iced the win for MIT.
Kates finished with 16 points and nine assists as MIT extended its season best win streak to seven games. Senior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds for MIT, which shot 53.5 percent for the game. Kolb led WPI in rebounding with eight.
Finished with NEWMAC play, MIT will play its final game of the regular season at home on Sunday when it hosts Wheelock College at 7 p.m. WPI will attempt to match MIT in the final regular season standings on Saturday when it plays at Clark University at 3 p.m.