Jan. 19, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Hamidou Soumare poured in a career-high 32 points and fellow junior Jimmy Bartolotta added 22, as MIT men's basketball got back on track with a 75-58 victory against Springfield College. The Engineers appeared more than happy to be back in the friendly confines of Rockwell Cage where the team has played decisively better while Saturday's NEWMAC win moved the Cardinal and Gray to 8-0 at home on the season.
The game looked eerily similar to MIT's (10-6, 2-2) last contest at Coast Guard. Three-pointers by Bartolotta and Will Mroz, along with a commanding presence by Soumare on the block enabled the Engineers to build a 15-4 lead just four minutes into the game. However, MIT cooled off over the next five minutes, and after John Stawson converted a traditional three-point play, Springfield (5-10, 0-3) found itself down 17-14 with 11 minutes still left in the frame.
Despite the shift in momentum, the Engineers never relinquished the lead and back-to-back three's by rookie Daniel McCue and Bartolotta extended the advantage back to nine. Soumare scored on a basket in the paint with 3:15 left that pushed MIT ahead to 36-24 while a jumper by Pat Crean capped the first-half scoring with two minutes still on the clock. Soumare totaled 17 points in the opening frame, as MIT enjoyed a 38-29 lead.
Springfield was determined to claw back into contention and after Jamaal Gibbs delivered on a shot from beyond the arc, the Engineers' advantage was reduced to 46-42 with 13:57 to play. Bartolotta finished with a hoop and the harm to once again extend the lead, but Gibbs answered with another jumper to keep the deficit at four with less than 10 minutes to go.
Outside of Soumare's fantastic offensive performance, the Engineers really benefited from a strong effort by Alex Bagley off the bench. With MIT up by six, Bagley connected on a tough, three-point play to extend the lead back to nine while three consecutive free throws gave MIT a 61-50 lead with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.
In the final few minutes, the Engineers turned missed shots by the Pride's attack into transition opportunities going the other way, as MIT closed the game on a 14-4 run to even up its ledger in conference play.
Soumare finished 11-of-14 from the floor and 10-of-11 at the charity stripe while adding eight rebounds and two blocks. Bartolotta rebounded from tough outings in his previous two games to close the afternoon with another all-around effort. The junior guard tied Soumare with eight boards, while chipping in seven assists, two blocks and a pair of steals. Bagley paced MIT's subs after finishing with nine points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
"We needed this win," noted Soumare after the big performance. "There was a slight feeling of desperation coming in because we haven't played well in our last two games. Although I would think that the team would agree that we still didn't play great, our energy level was high enough for us to come away with the victory."
Gibbs turned in a fine effort for Springfield, finishing with a team-high 22 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Stawson also played well in defeat, adding 17 points and six rebounds including 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Crean contributed with a game-best nine rebounds and a team-high four assists.