Jan. 5, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - One game after turning in its worst shooting performance of the season, MIT (8-2, 1-0) enjoyed its best shooting tilt of the campaign en route to a 75-54 victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (6-2, 0-1) in the NEWMAC opener for both teams. Eight different players had field goals as the Engineers raced out to a 21-12 lead midway through the first half. The Cardinal and Gray led by as much as 32 points in the second half before coasting to its biggest win over the Bears in 43 years.
MIT shot 54.4 percent from the floor on Thursday night and were nearly as deadly from behind the three-point line (12-of-23). The Engineers capitalized on turnovers to pull away early in the first half. Tech had seven steals in the opening 20 minutes and outscored Coast Guard by a 15-0 count on points off turnovers. MIT actually trailed 11-7 five minutes into the game before a fast-break lay-up by rookie Jimmy Bartolotta ignited a 14-1 run. A late three by Bartolotta gave MIT its largest lead of the frame at 34-17 with 1:40 left on the clock, while Mike D'Auria nailed a deep three at the buzzer to keep the Tech advantage at 16 heading into the break.
Behind Bartolotta's career-high 19 points and D'Auria's game-best 21, the Engineers continued to expand their lead in the second half. During a 16-5 run midway through the period, MIT converted on six consecutive trips down the floor, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. Sophomore Jeff Prebeck tried to keep the Bears in the game with an aggressive attack to the basket, but the Engineers' offense remained at full steam. D'Auria's jumper with 5:14 left in regulation gave MIT its largest lead of the night (70-38), and closed the books on a tremendous effort by Tech's starting unit.
D'Auria was 9-of-14 from the floor with four assists and two steals to lead the MIT attack, while Bartolotta closed 7-of-12 from the field including a 5-of-7 performance from three-point land. Although no other players scored in double figures, four players added at least six points. Freshman Bradley Gampel enjoyed the best game of his brief career with eight assists and four steals.
Prebeck paced Coast Guard with a team-best 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Al Sowers chipped in 10 for the visiting Bears and dished out five assists.
Thursday's conference opener featured the two top defensive teams in the league. Coast Guard entered the game allowing teams to shoot just over 34% from the field, while the Engineers have been surrendering the fewest points per game (54.6). The strong performance by the Cardinal and Gray also derailed a Coast Guard attack that had been dominant through its first seven games, averaging a league-best 84.6 points per game while winning by an average of 25 points. The victory gives MIT a win in its NEWMAC opener for the third consecutive season.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday. The Bears will host Springfield College, while MIT travels to Norton, Mass., to face Wheaton College (9-2, 1-0). Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.