Feb. 16, 2008
WORCESTER, Mass. - The WPI men's basketball team clinched its third consecutive outright New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship with an 81-46 victory over MIT at Harrington Auditorium on Saturday afternoon. MIT dropped its sixth consecutive game to fall to 12-12 and 3-8 in league play while WPI (18-5, 9-1 NEWMAC) is set to host the NEWMAC semifinals and finals on March 1 and 2 for the fifth straight year.
Junior Jerome Kirkland scored all 19 of his points in the first half to lead WPI in a dominating start. The host Engineers scored the first nine points of the game and kept the visitors off the scoreboard until Jimmy Bartolotta canned a jumper on MIT's first field goal attempt three minutes into the game. The Cardinal and Gray were plagued by six unforced turnovers in its first six possessions.
Following MIT's first hoop, WPI orchestrated a 15-7 run sparked by a string of four three-pointers - three from Kirkland - to take a 24-9 lead at 11:19. MIT closed the gap to 28-14 on Daniel McCue's corner three, but the WPI scored 10 of the next 11 points for a 38-15 advantage and took a 26-point margin (50-24) into the locker room. In the first half, WPI shot 60.6% (20-of-33) from the field and finished 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, MIT endured arguably its worst half of the season with 19 turnovers.
Bartolotta opened the second half with a conventional three-point play to close MIT's deficit to 23, but WPI's offense was too much for the visiting Engineers. WPI captured its largest lead (74-35) on a three by Ben Parker with 6:51 remaining and coasted to the 35-point victory.
Despite the fact that Bartolotta often looked fatigued as he continues to get back into game shape after missing two starts, the junior wing was the only player able to create his own shot against WPI's suffocating defensive pressure. Bartolotta scored 21 points to pace all scorers, but he also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds while adding four assists, two steals and a block to MIT's totals.
In addition to Kirkland, senior Jim Marois supplied WPI with 11 points and senior Ryan Bourque chipped in with 10 to lead the offensive attack while a staggering 18 players saw action against MIT.
MIT held a 35-30 advantage on the glass, but only shot 39.6% from the field and committed a season-high 33 turnovers. MIT was also unable to dial in from deep, shooting 2-of-14 from three-point range.