January 28, 2009

WPI Cools Off MIT in Battle of NEWMAC Unbeatens

Jan. 28, 2009

Box Score

Courtesy WPI Sports Information

WORCESTER, Mass. - Jeffrey Robinson came off the bench to net a team-high 17 points to help propel host WPI to a 68-55 victory over MIT in a battle of teams with undefeated NEWMAC records on Wednesday evening. With its seventh straight win, WPI improves to 15-3 overall and 6-0 atop the NEWMAC. MIT slips to 13-5 on the season and 5-1 in conference play.

Jerome Kirkland and Bennett Lessard each added 12 for the hosts. Lessard was an important cog in WPI’s effort on this night, especially in the first half, as his three consecutive buckets helped turn an early one-point deficit into a five-point lead. Lessard’s 12 points were a career-high, and he hauled in a game-high nine rebounds for WPI.

From the opening tip, both teams had difficulty scoring, as it took almost three minutes for the first points of the game. MIT started the game with a 12-2 run over the opening seven minutes and held WPI to 0-for-7 shooting from the floor with seven turnovers. The Crimson and Gray responded however, as a putback by Lessard put the finishing touches on a 17-2 WPI run that gave the home-standing Engineers a 19-14 advantage with 8:30 to go before the break.

MIT went on a spurt late in the half, scoring eight straight thanks to consecutive threes from Billy Johnson and Jamie Karraker. Following a made WPI free-throw, Kirkland answered with a three-pointer of his own to help WPI regain the lead at 30-27. The Worcester Engineers would not trail again in the game, taking a 37-30 lead into the break.

WPI continued to lead throughout the second half, pushing the advantage to double digits as MIT leading scorer Jimmy Bartolotta battled foul trouble throughout the game. Bartolotta, a consensus preseason All-American, dropped in 17, the first time he has been held below the 20-point mark this season. The senior also filled the stat columns with six boards and four assists. Johnson drained four trifectas en route to a game-high 20 points and team-best seven rebounds for the visitors. Karraker chipped in with 11 points.

The hosts received contributions from up and down the bench, as all nine players that appeared in the game dented the scoring column. The WPI reserves outscored their MIT counterparts 33-2 for the game. WPI also received an inspired effort from senior point guard Adam Lirette, who collected a game-high nine assists on the night.