Feb. 18, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Celebrating their final regular-season home game donning the Cardinal and Gray, MIT’s senior tri-captains each delivered electrifying performances as the Engineers raced past Clark, 97-89. Billy Johnson scorched the nets en route to a career-high 40 points, while Bradley Gampel and Jimmy Bartolotta added monster double-doubles to cement the No. 2 seed for MIT in the NEWMAC Tournament.
Johnson scored 24 in the first half before closing the night as the fourth player in team history to reach 40 in a single game. Bartolotta added 22 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds, while Gampel dropped in a career-high 18 and a game-best 11 assists. Gampel’s final dish of the contest set a new single-season record for the Engineers.
MIT (17-8, 8-4) jumped out to a 12-3 lead three minutes into the action as Johnson converted three straight attempts from three-point range. The Engineers kept it going from the outside early, with their first seven field goals all going for three.
Senior Mark Alexander authored a strong effort and made sure the Cougars (10-14, 4-7) stayed in contention despite MIT’s hot touch on the offensive end. Alexander scored seven of Clark’s first 12 points, while he sank a pair of free throws with 15 minutes left to slice the deficit to two. Although Clark pulled within one field goal on several occasions, the Engineers never relinquished the advantage.
Bartolotta scored his first points of the game with 7:41 remaining in the half to give MIT its biggest lead of the game up to that point at 36-24. A three by Bartolotta stretched the deficit to 16 (46-30) with 2:55 on the clock, while buckets by Chris LoPiano and Brian Vayda reduced the margin to 11. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the half, Alexander killed the crowd with a deep three from the wing, but Gampel’s desperation three at the buzzer from 25 feet banked in off the glass, and MIT led 51-40 at the break.
The frenetic pace carried over into the second half where Clark scored the first five points to pull within six. Bartolotta answered with six consecutive points of his own, while MIT slowly swelled the advantage during the middle part of the frame. Johnson’s jumper in the paint with 8:15 remaining yielded Tech’s biggest lead of the night at 76-56.
Although MIT appeared in control, the Cougars clawed back behind Alexander and Vayda. The Engineers maintained a double-digit lead for most of the way, but three free throws by Byron Roberts and a jumper by Drew Billington closed the gap to 87-80 with 2:13 to go. After a pair of free throws by Travis Tucker, a Roberts three lowered the deficit to six. Unfortunately, that was close as Clark would get as MIT sealed the win at the line.
Alexander paced five Clark players in double figures with 24 points. Vayda continued his outstanding rookie campaign with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and a game-high three steals while Peter Normandin added 16 points and seven boards. Roberts closed with 14 points and LoPiano chipped in 11. Thirteen different players saw action for Clark, which outscored MIT’s bench, 23-10.