Jan. 31, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Senior Jimmy Bartolotta became the first MIT basketball player to surpass 2,000 career points as he scored a game-high 39 in a sensational performance on Saturday to lead the Engineers past Wheaton, 85-60.
Bartolotta and fellow senior Billy Johnson, who entered Saturday’s game as the top two scorers in NEWMAC play, each delivered for MIT (14-5, 6-1). After scoring a season-low 17 points in Tech’s first conference loss at WPI, Bartolotta responded with a 28-point first half that left the Lyons stunned. He shot 9-of-11 from the floor during the first frame as MIT established a 54-27 half time lead. Johnson added 15 of his 19 points during the first 20 minutes of play.
Wheaton (12-8, 4-3) surrendered the first 10 points of the game and had few answers in thwarting the Engineers’ explosive attack. Bartolotta keyed a blistering start to the game as MIT led 30-13 ten minutes into the contest. The Engineers led by as many as 28 in the opening period and shot a staggering 68 % (19-of-28) from the field.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Wheaton sliced into Tech’s advantage as sophomore Ryan Sasso got hot from the outside. Sasso finished with 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range, and the Lyons trailed 63-48 with 10:55 to go. Unfortunately for the Wheaton faithful, MIT’s bench manufactured a 10-3 run over the next four minutes to seal the regular-season sweep against the Lyons. The win also kept MIT unbeaten in the friendly confines of Rockwell Cage, improving to 7-0 at home.
Sophomore Anthony Coppola turned in another strong effort for Wheaton with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Rookie Bruno Naylor also played well for the Lyons, going 4-of-6 for eight points in just 18 minutes of action. Wheaton played 15 guys against MIT’s thin, nine-man unit, but couldn’t counter MIT’s sharp shooting despite shooting 49 % from the field itself.
Bartolotta delivered his ninth 30-point game of the season, while adding seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals. Johnson chipped in seven boards and a game-high four blocks. Freshman Billy Bender enjoyed a terrific game with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in addition to six assists, four rebounds, a block, and a steal, while senior Bradley Gampel added a game-best nine assists and three steals.