MIT Upends WPI, 64-46, In NEWMAC Semifinal

Sophomore Justin Pedley

WORCESTER, Mass. – In a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball tournament semifinal, No. 4 seed MIT broke open a contest that was tied at the half with a strong surge to open the second half and went on to upset No. 1 seed WPI, 64-46. With the victory MIT will play the winner of the Babson/Springfield semifinal on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at WPI for the NEWMAC championship.

After a slow start that saw just a pair of points scored by WPI on free throws over the first two and a half minutes, MIT took its first lead of the game at 4-2 after baskets from juniors Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) and Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.). WPI came back with eight straight points, taking a 10-4 lead at the 14:35 mark on a trey from Ryan Kolb, one of three in the half for the senior.

MIT answered with a three from sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) and pulled back to within a point on an Acker layin. The game remained close for the remainder of the half, with neither side taking more than a three-point advantage.

MIT took that three-point lead when Frankel canned his second trey of the half, putting the Engineers up 17-14 at the 9:03 mark. Kolb then scored the next eight points for WPI, with his final three of the half putting the Engineers back on top, 22-21, with 4:22 left in the half.

A three from sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) put MIT back on top by two, but WPI answered with back-to-back baskets from Domenick Mastascusa to retake the lead. Pedley hit another trey that resulted in the ninth lead change of the half, putting MIT on top 27-26. WPI came back with a three from Zach Karalis, but Pedley knotted things up at 29-all for the half with a pair of free throws.

Frankel hit a trey to start the second half, beginning a 7-0 surge for the Engineers that gave them a 36-29 lead less than two minutes in on a basket by junior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.). A Mastascusa basket ended the opening scoring drought for WPI, but MIT continued its run, scoring four more to go up 40-31 with 15:12 left on a basket by Redfield.

The opening run proved to be the difference in the game as MIT went on to out score WPI 18-6 over the first 10 minutes of the final half. Ahead 47-35, the Cardinal and Grey were not done as they scored seven more unanswered points, taking a 54-35 lead on a Redfield layup with six minutes left. 

WPI, which was held to just 6-of-30 shooting in the second half, could not come up with run to get itself back in the game. The closest the Engineers could come was 13 points after a three from Sam Longwell made it 54-41 with 3:52 left.

WPI was forced to foul, and MIT hit 6-of-8 free throws over the final minutes to clinch the win and move to Sunday's championship game. Pedley finished with 16 points for MIT, hitting on 3-of-4 three pointers. Frankel was also 3-of-4 from behind the arc, totaling 15 points. Redfield had a double-double for the Engineers, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to help MIT to a 36-24 advantage on the boards. MIT out shot WPI, 55.8 percent to 30.4 percent, and hit on seven of its 10 three-point attempts. WPI was led by Kolb's 12 points, with Longwell adding 10 more for the Engineers.