CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In its first outing of the season, the MIT men's basketball team made the trip to neighboring Harvard University in what has become the annual start of the season for both teams. The Engineers hung tough in the first half but eventually fell, 73-52, to the Crimson in a game that is the regular season opener for Harvard and an exhibition contest for MIT.
MIT had the upper hand at the beginning of the game when the Engineers got a three-point shot from junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) for the game's first points. MIT, ranked No. 16 in the preseason Division III poll, managed to hold on to its advantage over Harvard, tied for 25th in the preseason AP poll for Division I schools, for the first five minutes of the contest. Layups by Pedley, who finished with 13 first half points, and junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) maintained the Engineer's advantage.
Harvard finally tied the game at 9-9 on a free throw from Wesley Sanders five and a half minutes in. That was part of a 9-0 spurt by the Crimson that carried them out to a 15-9 lead with 13:27 left in the half on a trey by Slyani Chambers. A three by senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) halted that run and MIT stayed with Harvard until Pedley hit five straight points on a trey and a jumper to put the Engineers back on top, 22-21, at the 10:27 mark.
Harvard answered with 10 straight points over the next five and a half minutes, jumping out to its biggest lead of the game at 31-22 on a Steve Moundou-Missi free throw. Sophomore Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) hit a three pointer for MIT to stop the streak, but Harvard closed the half on an 11-2 run as Chambers hit three treys to lead the Crimson to a 42-27 halftime advantage.
MIT could only shave a pair of points off the halftime lead at the start of the second half, pulling to within 13 at 44-31 after Butala grabbed an offensive board and laid it back in. Harvard came back with five straight, but a Butala three and a layup from senior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) answered those points to keep it a 13-point contest at 49-36.
Harvard pulled back out to a 19-point advantage on a trey from Corbin Miller, but MIT kept the deficit under 20 points and came back to within 15 after a basket from Acker made it 60-45 with 9:22 left. The Crimson then scored seven straight, with Zena Edosomwan ending the spurt with a dunk that gave Harvard its biggest lead of the night at 68-45.
MIT brought the lead back down under 20 on a layup by Butala with four minutes left, but Engineers could not shave any more off the lead as Harvard went on to take the victory.
Pedley led all players in the game with 19 points, while Butala also reached double figures for the Engineers with 16. Chambers and Saunders each had 15 points to lead Harvard, which outshot MIT by a 55.8 to 39.1 margin. The Crimson held a slight three-rebound advantage on the boards, with Saunders leading the team with nine. Acker shared top rebounding honors with nine boards and added eight points for the Engineers.
MIT will begin regular season play next week when the Engineers will open the 2014-15 season on the road at Gordon College. The two teams will square off on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m.