MIT Squeezes Past Lesley, 80-79
Nov. 28, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Sophomore Jimmy Bartolotta connected on two high-pressure free-throws in the waning seconds to lift MIT (3-2) from one-back to one-ahead as the Engineers defeated Lesley College, 80-79, Tuesday night. Sophomore Bradley Gampel stole the ball on the ensuing play as time expired to seal Tech's second straight win.
MIT comfortably led most of the first half, leading by as many as 13 with three minutes to go. Despite trailing most of the frame, the Lynx (2-2) never lost their composure and repeatedly climbed within six of seven before the Engineers would push the advantage back to double figures. Freshman Erich Bracht continued his incredible play after a strong showing at Suffolk, leading the Engineers with 17 points and 12 boards in the first half as Tech entered the break with a 47-41 edge.
The Cardinal and Gray maintained a steady command in the first five minutes of the second half in building a 55-45 lead. Lesley would answer behind the strong play of Joseph Chatman and Mark Stevens. A seven-point run closed the gap to three, but after Patrick Sissman converted a three-point play, the Engineers lead swelled back to 10 midway through the period.
After keeping the Lynx at bay all evening, Lesley made a push for the win with just over a minute left in regulation. Trailing 77-71, LU's James Parker hit a free throw after which the ball was stolen on the in-bounds and Francis Cusick drained a three. The quick flurry brought Lesley within two and set the stage for a free-throw battle down the stretch.
Joseph Chatman made four consecutive free throws, including a pair with less than 10 seconds on the clock to give the Lynx a 79-78 lead, their first since the opening minutes of the game. On MIT's final possession, Bartolotta drew a whistle on a strong move to the basket that enabled the second-year standout to once again showcase his game-time heroics.
Bartolotta, who entered Tuesday's tilt as the leading scorer in the NEWMAC, finished with a team-high 26 points in addition to 10 boards and four assists. One of the key reasons for Bartolotta's consistent offensive production has been his ability to get to the free-throw line. On Tuesday, he closed 10-of-12 at the stripe.
Bartolotta's strong effort was slightly overshadowed by one of the most dominating rookie efforts in MIT lore. Bracht didn't let up after a strong first half, finishing the game with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 22 caroms off the glass - tying the highest single-game rebounding total since Bill Eagleson set the Institute record in 1963.
Although the Engineers received most of their offensive spark from Bartolotta and Bracht, MIT continued to display balance and its great team chemistry. All nine players appearing against Lesley scored, while seven of the nine were credited with a steal or a rebound.
Chatman led Lesley with a game-high 32 points, while James Parker and Mark Stevens added 16 and 15, respectively. Paced by its double-double duo, MIT finished the night with a 52-36 rebounding edge.