MIT Holds Off Emerson In NEWMAC Quarterfinal

Junior Ryan Frankel
Junior Ryan Frankel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT built a 21-point, second half lead and then held off Emerson College for a 74-66 victory in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game. The No. 4 seeded Engineers were led by 23 points from junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) while the Lions, the No. 5 seed, were paced by 17 points from junior Sean Duffy (Berwyn, Pa.). MIT will now advance to a semifinal matchup with No. 1 seed Babson College on Saturday.

MIT (18-7) got things off to a good start, racing out to a 10-2 advantage just four minutes in, completing a 10-2 spurt with a pair of free Frankel throws. MIT still held an eight-point lead at 13-5 after junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) converted on a three-point play, but Emerson (11-14) came back on the shoulders of junior Michael Thorpe (Newton, Mass.).

Thorpe hit for seven points in a four-minute stretch that brought the Lions back even with the Engineers. He started with a three and finished with a free throw that tied it at 15-all midway through the half. A layup by junior Brian Hurley (South Boston, Mass.) kept the contest tied, but MIT came back with seven straight and took a 24-17 lead on a pair of Frankel free throws.

Emerson cut it to five on a trey from junior Mike Carbone (North Reading, Mass.) with 2:23 left, but MIT put anther run on the Lions, this time outscoring them 8-0 to take a 38-25 lead on a pair of free throws by junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.). Emerson picked up a three from Duffy as time expired to make it 38-28 at the half.
 
MIT did not let its foot off the gas at the start of the second half, scoring eight straight to push its advantage to 18 points when Pedley drained a trey at the 15:41 mark. A minute and a half later the Engineers had stretched it out to a 21-point lead when Frankel, who hit on 11 of 13 free throws in the contest, dropped one in from the stripe.
 
With 12:15 left a three from junior Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) kept the MIT bulge at 21 points at 54-33, but a steal by Thorpe lead to a jumper from junior Tyson Hallowell (Lincoln, Mass.) on the other end and it ignited a comeback attempt by the Lions.

Emerson's defense forced seven turnovers over the next seven minutes, five of which led to points for the Lions as they clawed their way back into the game. Duffy also got hot for Emerson, scoring 11 points of what turned into a 21-8 run for Emerson. With 5:24 left Duffy's three brought the Lions within 10 points for the first time in the half, and senior Eli Kell-Abrams followed with a layup after an MIT miss that made it 60-54 with 4:48 to go.

A three from freshman Samson Donick (Tiburon, Calif.) gave MIT some breathing room at 67-54 with 3:13 to play, but Emerson got back-to-back threes from Hallowell and junior Austin Pinckney (Miami, Fla.) to close to within four at 67-63 with two minutes left. From there, however, the Lions missed seven straight shots, ending their comeback bid and moving the Engineers to the semifinals for a seventh straight season. 

Redfield finished with 13 points while also leading MIT with a career-high 18 rebounds. Senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) added 12 points and six boards, with Pedley dropping in 10 points. Duffy also led Emerson with eight rebounds, with Thorpe finishing with 15 points and Pinckney adding 12.

MIT will take on Babson in its semifinal clash on Saturday at Babson starting at 1:00 p.m.