Feb. 11, 2009
Courtesy Babson Sports Information
BABSON PARK, Mass. - Senior captain Zach Etten hit his third game-winning shot of the season with 9.4 seconds left and then made two huge defensive plays to help the host Babson College Beavers defeat visiting MIT, 69-67, in a thrilling New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) duel at Babson's Staake Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
It was the fourth straight conference victory for Babson, which improved to 12-10 overall and 4-5 in the NEWMAC. Meanwhile, MIT suffered its second straight set-back to fall to 16-7 overall and 7-3 in league play.
Etten's fourth trifecta of the night with 9.4 seconds left in regulation capped off a spectacular 21-point, six-rebound effort. The senior captain shot 7-for-12 from the field, including a 4-for-7 mark from long range, and hit all three of his free throws while also recording two steals. Sophomore Shelton Ladson joined Etten in double figures with 11 points, nine of which came on a trio of three-pointers, while sophomore Eric White (Hyattsville, Md.) also hit three shots from beyond the arc to finish with nine points. The Beavers atoned for their 22 turnovers by shooting 51.1 percent (23-for-45) from the floor, including an outstanding 50.0 percent (11-for-22) mark from three-point range.
MIT was led in defeat by senior Jimmy Bartolotta, who turned in yet another brilliant offensive showing with 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field. The veteran guard also added four rebounds, three assists, and three steals, but was held to just 3-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc. One of the those trifectas gave MIT the lead, 67-66, with 19 seconds left, only to have Etten answer 10 seconds later.
Also playing well for the Engineers were senior Billy Johnson, who shot 8-for-15 for 18 points, and senior guard Bradley Gampel, who added eight points, five boards, three steals, and a game-high eight assists. MIT shot 42.9 percent (27-63) from the field in the loss, including a 23.5 percent clip (8-for-34) from long range.
Babson controlled the contest early on, mounting a 13-point lead on two separate occasions in the first half, including a 22-9 cushion with 10:41 left in the period. The Engineers battled back to within three after a Johnson lay-up made it 27-24 with just over six minutes remaining, but the Beavers knocked down three big trifectas in the closing minutes of the half to take an eventual 42-31 advantage into the locker room.
In a rollercoaster second half, MIT again pulled to within striking distance after consecutive lay-ups by Johnson cut Babson's lead to 46-42, only to have the Beavers expand their advantage with a 12-3 run that was capped by back-to-back threes by Ladson and Etten. That gave the Beavers a 58-45 cushion - matching their largest lead of the game - with 9:14 left to pay.
Refusing to go quietly, the Engineers mounted a furious comeback behind Johnson and Bartolotta, who scored six points apiece during a 19-4 run over seven and a half minutes. Johnson's three-pointer from deep in the left corner with 2:22 remaining pulled his team even at 62-62, and Bartolotta's midcourt steal and ensuing fastbreak lay-in gave MIT its first lead of the night, 64-62, with 1:46 left in the game.
Following a time-out, Babson sent the ball into senior Pat Belniak, who hit a tough jumper on the right block to once again knot the score, 64-64. The veteran forward then came up with a key defensive play at the other end, drawing an offensive foul on a Bartolotta drive that gave the Beavers the ball with just over a minute left. De Silva capitalized by drawing a loose ball foul and hitting both ends of a one-and-one, putting the hosts back in front, 66-64, with 41.8 on the clock.
With a six-second differential between the game and shot clocks, Bartolotta received the ball on the left wing and knocked down a huge 25-foot three-pointer with 19 seconds left in the game, moving MIT back in front, 67-66. Both teams followed with timeouts with 16.1 remaining, setting up Etten's game-winning heroics.
Receiving the ball in the backcourt, Etten went one-on-one with Bartolotta down the right side. The Babson senior captain then pulled up and drained a long three-pointer from the wing, giving his team a 69-67 lead with 9.4 seconds left to play. With both teams out of timeouts, MIT immediately pushed the ball up court, but Etten knocked the ball loose near the three-point line, costing the visitors several valuable seconds. The Engineers eventually corralled the loose ball and got it back to Bartolotta, but with Etten and de Silva defending, his desperation three-point attempt came up short as Babson held on for the victory.