March 1, 2009
WORCESTER, Mass. – With a 76-50 victory over Springfield College in the 2009 NEWMAC Tournament Championship Final, MIT secured its first NCAA Tournament berth in school history. Senior Jimmy Bartolotta enjoyed another phenomenal effort on Sunday, scoring a game-high 37 points to spark the historic win.
“It feels great to finally make the tournament (NCAA), which has been a culmination of a lot of hard work by the players and coaches,” said Bartolotta. “Winning this championship is a great achievement. So much of our season has been about the stuff that doesn’t appear in the box scores, and I can’t underestimate the camaraderie, and closeness of the team. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but at all points of the season everyone was so supportive and excited to see the team perform well above the individual.”
Senior Billy Johnson was the only other MIT player to reach double figures as he scored 13 points, while classmate Bradley Gampel turned in another masterful performance at the point with 10 assists and one turnover. Gampel added seven boards and three steals in adding to his single-season Institute record.
Junior Pat Crean paced the Pride with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, although Matthew Cavalieri was the only other player to score at least three field goals. Springfield shot 42% for the game, but was just 2-of-11 from three-point range. The Engineers shot at a clip of 47% and benefitted from a significant advantage from the outside where they finished 10-of-25.
Trailing 35-26 entering the second half, Springfield sliced the MIT advantage t o 37-30 following a jumper by Crean with 17:21 to go. Bartolotta pushed the lead back to nine with a lay-up on Tech’s next possession, while Johnson put the lead in double figures for the duration with a three on MIT’s next shot.
MIT slowly expanded the advantage during the half, but with Johnson and rookie sharpshooter Jamie Karraker sidelined with four fouls each, the Engineers received key contributions from their bench to ignite a 19-3 run. A three by freshman Billy Bender gave MIT its largest lead of the afternoon at 76-48 with 57 seconds left in regulation.
“It’s nice to be part of history,” said head coach Larry Anderson, who is set to guide MIT to the NCAA’s for the first time in over 100 years of basketball. “For me, it’s great to see it pay off for guys that have worked so hard over the years. “No question it was a total team effort, but the credit goes to our senior tri-captains. Jimmy, Billy and Bradley have different personalities and each brings something unique to the program, but through the years they developed a chemistry that you dream of as a coach.”
MIT awaits word from the NCAA selection committee to find out where the Engineers will play their first-ever NCAA Tournament game. The NCAA Division III Selection Show is scheduled for Monday, March 2 at 11 a.m. Sunday’s victory resulted in MIT’s second 20-win season in four years.