Cinderella Season Ends for MIT Men's Basketball
March 7, 2009
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Farmingdale State advanced to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament Sectional Round for the first time in the program’s history on Saturday, defeating MIT, 67-61, at The Murray Center on the campus of Rhode Island College. Senior guard Damien Santana scored 20 of his team-high 23 points in the first half to lead the Rams’ attack.
In a battle of conference Players of the Year, MIT senior guard Jimmy Bartolotta and Santana combined for the game’s first 18 points, as the game was knotted up, 9-9, just two minutes into the action.
The Engineers (21-9) took the lead, 10-9, on a free throw by senior forward Billy Johnson at 15:07 and held the advantage for the next 12:51. MIT built a seven-point advantage (22-15) following a Bartolotta three at 8:21.
Despite falling behind, the Rams (26-3) closed out the half on an 18-4 run to take a seven-point advantage into halftime at 33-26. A triple by senior guard Joe Cammarata shifted the momentum for Farmingdale with a three at 8:05 and Santana took over from there, scoring 10 points during the surge to finish the first stanza with 20 points.
MIT whittled the deficit down to two points, 43-41, with 13:34 left behind its potent perimeter shooting. Freshman guard Jamie Karraker sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around a Bartolotta triple, during the run.
Farmingdale senior forward Erastus Shannon stemmed the tide with a lay-up, only to see MIT rattle off seven straight points, capped by a Karraker trey at 11:08, to give the Engineers their first lead (48-45) since the 4:38 mark of the first half.
The Rams delivered a 16-4 run to match their game-high advantage of nine with 5:41 remaining. Junior forward Daniel Phillips and Shannon each contributed four points during the push.
Showcasing its resiliency, MIT once again came back to cut the deficit down to two points, 63-61, with 1:25 remaining on another Karraker three.
That would be as close as the Engineers would get as junior forward Mike Campbell and Cammarata each sank a pair of free throws down the stretch.
Santana finished with 23 points, which included five three-pointers, and a team-high seven rebounds. Shannon scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half, while Cammarata rounded out the trio in double figures with a 14-point effort. The Rams shot 52 percent from the field (26-for-50), including a 50 percent (7-for-14) mark from beyond the three-point line.
Bartolotta led all scorers with 27 points, to go along with seven rebounds and two assists. Karraker scored all 12 of his points over the final 20 minutes, while Johnson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior guard Bradley Gampel contributed four points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists. The Engineers held the rebounding edge, 35-32, but struggled from the field, shooting just 36 percent (23-for-64) for the game. MIT, which achieved its success as one of the nation’s best outside shooting teams, endured its worst performance of the year from distance as the Cardinal and Gray made just 8 of its 36 attempts.
MIT tri-captains Jimmy Bartolotta, Bradley Gampel, and Billy Johnson close out their college careers as the best senior class in the history of the MIT basketball program. The trio paced MIT to a four-year best 68 wins, while securing the program’s first NEWMAC Championship and first NCAA Tournament berth.
Bartolotta retires with a plethora of Institute records, including 2,279 career points and 184 career steals. He also ranks third in career blocks, fifth in career assists, and sixth in career rebounds, while leaving as the top three-point and free-throw shooter in Tech’s basketball lore.
Gampel, who set single-season MIT records for assists (207) and steals (80), ranks third all-time in assists, and second to Bartolotta in steals with 183.
Johnson enjoyed a stellar senior campaign and finished the year with 836 career points despite seeing limited time as a rookie and missing nearly all of his sophomore season due to injury.