Feb. 18, 2006
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Senior Mike D'Auria made the most of a second opportunity against the Springfield College Pride (10-15, 5-7) on Saturday. After failing to connect on a game-winning attempt versus nationally-ranked WPI, D'Auria knocked down his game-winning opportunity at Springfield as MIT (18-7, 8-4) defeated the Pride in an exciting league tilt, 62-61.
The Engineers somehow spoiled Springfield's senior day, despite being dominated in nearly every statistical category. But the Pride were unable to capitalize against a gritty Tech squad that has defined its season by forcing teams to play at its pace.
Derek Yvon scored 13 points in the first half on 5-of-9 shooting, while Anthony Pizzo controlled the attack with eight points on two shots, three assists and no turnovers. Springfield also secured a 22-13 rebounding edge and nearly doubled MIT's shooting percentage (45%-24%). Although the disparity was apparent in the stats, the Pride had only a two-point lead when Yvon drained a three at the end of the half to move Springfield in front, 28-23.
Saturday's regular-season finale produced 17 lead changes, although most of the see-saw action took place inside the final 10 minutes of the game. Will Mroz sparked Tech's offensive assault by giving MIT its first lead of the frame on a deep three. The jumper put the Cardinal and Gray ahead, 42-41, with 10:43 left to play, although the Pride would answer right back.
After a sluggish first half, the Engineers' perimeter attack paved the way to the winning effort. The combination of D'Auria, Mroz, Danny Kanamori and Jimmy Bartolotta accounted for all 39 of Tech's second-half points on 13-of-18 shooting. Kanamori connected on a three-point field goal with 7:15 remaining to give MIT its largest lead of the afternoon (50-45).
Springfield senior center Brian Riley played a superb second half in keeping the Pride within striking distance. His lay-up with 2:30 left on the clock gave Springfield a four-point lead, but two free throws by Bartolotta sliced the deficit in half on the next possession. After a defensive stop, Kanamori connected on a three with four seconds on the shot clock to boost MIT ahead, 60-59.
Riley, who closed with 10 points and a game-best 12 rebounds en route to his sixth double-double in seven games, converted a tough bank shot from the post to grab the lead back for Springfield with 37 seconds to go.
With five seconds left, D'Auria, had the ball just beyond the top of the key and bobbled it for a slight moment. But he regained control, drove the lane and stopped for a one-handed eight-footer, the ball swishing through the hoop with 2.1 seconds left on the board.
Derek Yvon led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting, while Riley and Pizzo each added 10 markers for the Pride. Springfield outscored MIT, 36-10, in the paint and held a decisive advantage on the glass (35-23); although the Pride was forced into committing 16 turnovers.
D'Auria scored 18 points and Kanamori added 17 to lead the MIT charge. Mroz, who has been a key ingredient in MIT's three-game road winning streak, scored all 10 of his points in the second half on 4-of-6 shooting. As with most of the season, Tech received solid contributions from its reserves, outscoring Springfield 19-10 in bench points. Junior Alex Krull played a major part in keeping the reigns tight during the first half, scoring all nine of his points in the stanza to ignite the offense.
Earlier this afternoon, Clark defeated Coast Guard, 60-54, clinching the No. 2 seed for MIT in the NEWMAC Tournament. The Bears fall to the No. 3 seed, setting up a first-round rematch against the Cougars. The Engineers will face Babson in the opening round of the tournament, beginning at 7 p.m., Tuesday night.
MIT will host a postseason basketball game for the first time since 2002, while the Cardinal and Gray earned its highest conference finish in league history.