Strong Second Half Lifts MIT Over Wheaton, 71-56

Senior Andrew Acker
Senior Andrew Acker

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After playing to a 30-30 tie in the first half, MIT came out and shot over 53 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to propel the Engineers past Wheaton College, 71-56, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball battle. Senior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) led the way for MIT with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, posting the 19th double-double of his career. Junior Billy Battaglia (Simsbury, Conn.) led all scorers with 22 points for Wheaton.

Wheaton (4-18, 1-11 NEWMAC) got off to a strong start on both ends of the court, with sophomore Alex Sugarman (Concord, Mass.) blocking a pair of shots on defense and senior Mike Cannon (New York, N.Y.) dropping in a three to lead the Lyons to a 7-1 lead three and a half minutes in. MIT (16-6, 9-3 NEWMAC) came back with an 8-2 spurt to tie the game, with Acker dropping in four points, including his layup that tied it up, 9-9, at the 13-minute mark. 

MIT edged out to a five-point lead four minutes later when Acker converted on a three-point play, and then pushed it to a six-point advantage on a three by freshman Samson Donick (Tiburon, Calif.). Wheaton battled back and outscored MIT 7-1 over the next five minutes, tying the contest for the third time, this time at 23-23 on a free throw by senior Eddie Capstick (Worcester, Mass.).

A three by senior Nicholas Prus (Arlington Heights, Ill.) put MIT back on top by three, but Wheaton answered with a trey by Battaglia. Acker and Battaglia then traded baskets in the final minute of the half to leave things knotted at 30-all.

Over the opening minutes of the second half the two teams remained close, with MIT holding just a two-point edge at 38-36 three minutes in. The Engineers then received a pair of three throws from junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) and a three from junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) that started a 16-2 run that consumed nearly six minutes off the clock. Six of the points came from senior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.), and his dunk with 9:16 left in the game put MIT up by 16 at 54-38.

That proved to be the deciding run of the game as Wheaton could not get closer that 13 points the rest of the way. MIT pushed its lead out as far as 20 on a Frankel trey with 4:38 left and the Engineers cruised home the rest of the way.

Frankel finished with 12 points and seven assists for MIT, with Pedley adding 10 points and grabbing a career-high six rebounds. MIT held a slight 41.9 to 40.7 edge in field goal percentage, with the Engineers dominating the boards by a 49-25 margin. Freshman Ryan Fogarty (Walpole, Mass.) also reached double figures in the scoring department with 16 points while sharing the team lead in rebounding with four.

MIT will play its final home game of the regular season on Wednesday in its next outing, hosting Emerson College at 8:00 p.m. Wheaton will also be at home on Wednesday night, hosting WPI at 6:00 p.m.