Nov. 27, 2007
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - After closing the first half on a 15-4 run, MIT men's basketball followed up the impressive stretch by holding Gordon College to just four points in the first 12 minutes of the second half as the Engineers enjoyed one of their best team efforts of the season in a 66-44 victory over the previously unbeaten Fighting Scots. Jimmy Bartolotta paced the victory with another performance that covered the stat sheet while Hamidou Soumare controlled the dynamics of the battle with a huge effort on the defensive end.
Entering Tuesday unscathed through its first three games, Gordon (3-1) figured to serve as MIT's stiffest test of the season. After trading baskets for the first 13 minutes, the game certainly had the appearance of replicating last year's tight contest, which was won by Gordon late.
Despite the even start, Soumare's presence on defense shifted momentum firmly in favor of the Engineers as back-to-back blocks led to easy baskets in transition for the Cardinal and Gray. Ahead 24-23 with 6:01 on the clock, Bartolotta sandwiched a three between two long-range triples by Will Mroz over the next five minutes as MIT (4-1) moved in front by double figures. Bradley Gampel forced a steal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame, which led to a fast-break hoop for Alex Bagley. With another score and a rocking crowd backing the effort, the Engineers headed to the locker room ahead, 37-25.
Mroz maintained the hot touch to open the second half, taking a feed by Bartolotta and draining another three just 12 seconds into the frame. The field goal sparked a 22-6 run for the Engineers as MIT extended its advantage to 59-29 with 8:28 left in regulation. As MIT went deep into its bench soon after Gordon snapped the run, the offense dropped off but the defensive intensity remained as Tech's hardwood unit ensured its fourth straight win of the season.
Bartolotta was once again sensational. The junior finished 8-of-12 from the floor for a game-high 23 points. Drawing double coverage for most of the evening, the extra help enabled Bartolotta to regularly find the open shooter as he also finished the tilt with a game-best eight assists. He added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks while finishing 4-of-5 from three-point range and 3-of-3 at the foul line.
Mroz enjoyed a break-out effort in the victory, scoring a season-high 17 points behind a 5-of-9 performance beyond the arc. Although he endured a tough shooting performance from the floor, Billy Johnson also reached double figures with 10 points while grabbing eight caroms off the glass.
While Bartolotta and Mroz paced MIT on the offensive end, Soumare was a monster on defense. Entering Tuesday averaging 10 rebounds per game, Soumare equaled that number in the first half en route to 15 rebounds while adding five blocks.
Jon Marstaller led a trio of Gordon players with nine points. Marstaller delivered a fine effort in defeat as he grabbed seven rebounds, four blocks, three steals and three assists. Aaron Trigg and Brady Bajema also chipped in nine points for the Scots.