Feb. 21, 2007
WORCESTER, Mass. - No. 5 seed MIT controlled the tempo for most of Wednesday's rematch against No. 4 seed Clark, and the Engineers held the Cougars to 29 percent shooting for the game en route to a 64-53 victory at the Kneller Athletic Center in the quarterfinal round of the NEWMAC Tournament. With the victory, MIT (14-12) extended its season by at least one more game, and will face top seed and regular-season conference champions, WPI, at noon on Saturday.
Largely behind the efforts of freshman Erich Bracht, the Engineers orchestrated an eight-point lead by the halftime break. Bracht was 6-of-6 from the field in the first half in leading MIT to a 28-20 lead. Although freshman Mark Alexander connected on a jumper to give Clark a 15-13 advantage with nearly nine minutes left in the period, the Cougars didn't get their next field goal until Dominque Beck hit a three from the top with 1:15 on the clock. The Cardinal and Gray outscored Clark 15-5 during the remainder of the half, while Jimmy Bartolotta capped the scoring with a basket and foul as time expired.
In the second half, MIT rode the hot hand of senior Alex Krull and Bartolotta to extend its lead by as many as 18. Shrugging off a tough first half from the floor, Krull was 5-of-6 in the second frame. Bartolotta equaled Krull's offensive production in the half, while the sophomore star picked up a majority of his rebounds and assists in the final 20 minutes.
Leading 42-31 with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, the Engineers scored 10 of the next 13 points to push their lead to a game-high, 52-34. Clark continued to press, but its shots from the outside weren't falling and MIT maintained a 16-point edge with 1:30 to go. Slader Lyell, who was instrumental in Clark's victory against MIT last Saturday, scored five straight points in the game's final moments to slice the final deficit to 11.
Once again, Bartolotta dotted the stat sheet with impressive numbers and closed with a game-high 24 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He added three assists, three steals and a block in leading MIT to its second straight appearance in the NEWMAC Tournament semi-finals.
Bracht, who entered Wednesday's quarterfinal ranked 12th in the nation in field-goal percentage, continued his outstanding rookie campaign by scoring 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and adding nine boards. Krull chipped in 16 points and six rebounds.
"I'm really proud," commented head coach Larry Anderson. "We fought hard, and anyone watching tonight got a good definition of what it means to leave it on the floor. Against a well-coached Clark team, we did just that."
The Cougars were led by rookie Mark Alexander, who scored 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. No other players reached double figures for Clark (11-14), which finished the game 20-of-69 from the field, including 10-of-33 from beyond the arc, in its final game of the season.