BOSTON, Mass. – After playing to a first half tie, the MIT men's basketball team pulled out to a double-digit lead in the second half and then held off a later charge by Emerson College to take a 64-55 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) victory. Junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) reached the 20-point mark for the second time this season with a game-high 21 points to lead the Engineers to the victory.
Neither team had more than a five-point lead in a closely played first half that saw the score tied nine times. MIT (12-4, 5-1 NEWMAC) was the first to reach a five-point advantage, getting there when junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) drained a trey to make it 10-5 at 13:43. Emerson (9-7, 3-3 NEWMAC) came right back with five straight, knotting the contest at 10-all on a three from junior Mike Carbone (North Reading, Mass.). That was the beginning of a 12-2 run for the Lions, with Sean Duffy finishing things off with a free throw that put Emerson on top 17-12 with 9:33 left in the half.
Emerson still led by five with eight minutes left when a triple by Frankel that he followed with jumper enabled MIT to tie the game at 19-19. Baskets by Frankel and senior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) had MIT back on top by four, but the Lions came back to tie the game for a seventh time on a pair of free throws by junior Michael Thorpe (Newton, Mass.) that made it 23-all with 4:44 left in the half. From there neither side could pull away and with 48 seconds left freshman Spencer Rust (Alamo, Calif.) sent the game into the break tied at 27-27 with a put back of his own miss.
MIT scored the first four points of the second half, but Emerson came back to take a 32-31 lead on a pair of free throws from senior Eli Kell-Abrams (Berkley, Calif.) three minutes in. Rust, who scored a season best 15 points, put the Engineers back on top with a layup, with the Scarlet and Grey stretching its advantage to five points at 13:56 after a steal by Pedley led to a layup for Frankel.
That was the start of a 10-4 surge for MIT that pushed its lead to 47-38 when Rust hit a three with 9:36 left. Junior Austin Pinckney (Miami, Fla.) answered for Emerson with a trey and the Lions crept back within four at 47-43 on a pair of Thorpe free throws. Frankel then scored five points of a 7-0 run, helping the Engineers to their largest lead of the day when he drained a pair of free throws to make it 54-43 with five minutes left.
Emerson then mounted a late charge and out scored MIT, 10-3, over the next four minutes. When junior Ryan Clinesmith (New York, N.Y.) hit a layup with 51 seconds to go, the Lions were back within striking distance at 57-53. That was as close as they would come, however, as MIT hit on 7-of-9 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Lions and come away with the win.
Frankel and Rust were the only two MIT players to reach double figures in scoring, with senior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) helping the Engineers to a 39-29 edge on the boards with 10 rebounds. Redfield finished with nine points and seven boards for MIT, which shot 46 percent for the game. Thorpe had a game-high 15 points for Emerson, with Pinckney matching Acker with 10 rebounds.
MIT will play away from home again in its next outing, traveling to Wheaton College on Wednesday for a 7:00 p.m. conference clash. Emerson will also be on the road on Wednesday, taking on Springfield College at 7:00 p.m.