Nov. 29, 2007
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Junior forward Hamidou Soumare paced four MIT players in double figures and the Engineers used a dominating effort in the first half to cruise past Endicott College, 87-66, in Rockwell Cage on Thursday night. Jimmy Bartolotta led all scorers for the fifth straight game with 26 points, but Soumare delivered a career performance to carry MIT in the non-conference win.
Bartolotta jumped the passing lane right after the opening tip and coasted to an uncontested lay-up to give MIT (5-1) the quick lead just 10 seconds into the game. The opening play was a precursor to the rest of the half, which was decisively controlled by the Engineers.
MIT led 13-2 just four minutes into the game and were ahead 33-9 with 7:30 left in the first half. The Engineers benefited from an efficient offensive performance, but a majority of the surge came as a result of terrific defensive intensity. MIT tied an Institute record with 20 steals in the contest, including 12 thefts in the opening 20 minutes. Bartolotta scored 20 of his 26 points in the first frame, and after finishing the opening half shooting 60% from the floor, the Engineers headed to the locker room at the half ahead, 54-25.
"The first 20 minutes was the best half of basketball that we've seen at MIT," noted associated head coach Oliver Eslinger. "I was disappointed that we lost our focus in the second half, but we were able to kill Endicott's momentum at the right times to stay ahead."
Down by 29 to start the second half, Endicott (1-3) showed its resiliency by orchestrating a 10-4 run in the first three minutes of the period. Graham Whitelaw connected on back-to-back jumpers to spark the charge. The Gulls continued to slice into the MIT lead, while Tech head coach Larry Anderson liberally shuffled his lineup while trying to find the defensive intensity that created the strong first half.
Bobby Montrond brought Endicott to within 16 at the 9:40-mark after hitting his second of two triples to leave the Engineers in front, 71-55. Unfortunately for the Gulls, that would be as close as it would get as a ferocious fast-break dunk by Soumare sparked another mini-run that erased any thoughts of an Endicott comeback.
Soumare served as the catalyst in Thursday's explosive win, setting career high's with 22 points, 16 rebounds and five steals.
"We're a different team when we play with the defensive intensity that we displayed in the first half," said forward Billy Johnson. "We set a tone in the first half that they couldn't recover from, but we still need to improve in a lot of areas. We still haven't played good basketball for 40 minutes."
The 20 steals tied a team record for MIT with Soumare leading the pack. Bradley Gampel, who chipped in eight points and five assists, added four steals. Bartolotta and Will Mroz had three steals a piece.
Mroz carried his hot-touch from Tuesday over to Thursday's tilt, finishing 5-of-7 for 12 points. Johnson added 11 points to cap a bulk of the MIT scoring.
Endicott boasted four players in double figures as well, led by Montrond, who finished with 17 points and a game-best seven assists. Whitelaw scored 13 for the Gulls, while Tom Connor and Gary Corbett each supplied the offense with 10.