CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – For the second time in five days the 16th-ranked MIT men's basketball team overcame a late deficit to tie the game in regulation and then go on to win in overtime as the Engineers scored a 63-58 decision over Fitchburg State in non-conference action. Senior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) led MIT with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Givaughn Jones (Dorchester, Mass.) led Fitchburg State with 19 points.
MIT (4-0) trailed by nine with five minutes left after Jones scored on a layup for the Falcons. The Engineers received an answer from sophomore Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) on the other end that started them on the comeback trail. Senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) hit a three from the corner that made it a four-point game with 1:56 to go. Two more three-point plays did it for MIT, with Acker converting a conventional one with 48 seconds left to make it 55-52 before junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) drained a trey to tie the game with 30 seconds left. Junior Anthony Muccioli (Nashua, N.H.) missed on a game-winning attempt as time expired to send the game to overtime.
In the OT Acker put MIT up first with a layup, but a pair of free throws by Jones tied things up again a minute in to extra time. Acker got loose for another layup and MIT never trailed again. Jones had Fitchburg State (5-2) back within a point after making one of two free throws with a minute left, but the Falcons missed on back-to-back layups and junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) and Butala each made a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to put the game in the win column for the Engineers.
Pedley gave MIT the early 2-0 lead in the game on a layup in the first minute, with Fitchburg State coming right back to tie things up on a jump shot by junior Kwame Lee (Brockton, Mass.). For the next 13 minutes neither team could pull away from the other, with the Falcons holding a slight advantage for most of that stretch. With 7:09 left in the half Acker brought the Engineers within a pair at 15-13, but Fitchburg State answered with a layup from sophomore Jalen Williams (Meriden, Conn.), starting the Falcons on a 7-2 run that gave them their biggest lead of the game at 22-15 after a layup by Lee with 2:51 left. Pedley stopped the run with a trey and MIT stayed four points behind at the half, 24-20.
Fitchburg State ran out to a 10-point lead over the first three minutes of the second half, going up 32-22 on a basket by Lee at the 17:07 mark. A basket from Butala brought the deficit back under 10 for MIT and the Engineers managed to slowly chip away at the Falcons' lead. With 12:26 left MIT was back within a pair at 36-34 on a layup by Acker.
MIT pulled within one at 43-42 on a three from Pedley at 9:36, but Fitchburg State saw Jones hit four straight shots while MIT missed five straight attempts, giving the Falcons the nine-point advantage with 5:10 left. Butala then broke the scoreless streak for MIT with his layup, setting up the finish of the game.
Pedley added 18 points for MIT, with Butala also reaching double figures with 13 for the Engineers, who shot 43.1 percent for the game. Levene reached double figures in rebounds as well with 10, helping MIT to a 37-28 edge on the boards. Lee was the only other player in double figures for Fitchburg State, dropping in 12 points while also pacing the Falcons with six rebounds.
MIT will play its fourth straight at home in its next game, hosting UMass Boston on December 2 at 7:00 p.m. Fitchburg State will also be at home next Tuesday, hosting New England College at 7:00 p.m.