Dec. 2, 2008
SALEM, Mass. – Salem State’s balanced attack put five players in double figures and the Vikings’ full-court press plagued MIT throughout the contest as the home team rallied past the Engineers, 75-65, at the O’Keefe Center on Tuesday night.
Jimmy Bartolotta delivered another phenomenal effort to keep MIT (4-3) in contention, but despite his third consecutive game with at least 30 points, the Engineers fell to 1-3 on the road while Salem State (4-1) upped its record to 4-0 at home.
Bartolotta closed with 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting to pace an MIT attack that held a 50-42 lead with 11 minutes left in regulation. Forcing the Engineers to commit a season-high 31 turnovers, the Vikings scored 22 points in the second half on the takeaways en route to the dominating finish.
Dylan Holmes, who was the 2007-08 MASCAC Player of the Year, led Salem State with 15 points as Stevie Celestin and Nick Linear each chipped in a dozen. Brian Clark scored 11 points and added a team-high nine rebounds while Rick Ogboin tossed in 10 to round out the Vikings' double-digit scorers.
For the seventh straight game, MIT fell behind early and trailed 13-5 six minutes into the action. Consecutive three’s by Eric Zuk, Billy Johnson, and Bartolotta pushed the Engineers in front by one. After trading baskets with Salem over the next five minutes, MIT gradually pulled ahead as Bartolotta and Johnson alternated buckets. A Johnson free throw with 1:30 left in the first half provided MIT with its biggest lead of the game at 35-23. The Vikings scored the final five points of the frame to close the deficit to seven at the break.
Salem State opened the second half with an 11-5 run that reduced MIT’s advantage to two, although Bartolotta canned jumpers on three straight possessions to stretch the lead back to eight. The Vikings turned up the pressure in the last 11 minutes of the game, outscoring MIT, 33-15, while ending the battle with 18 steals. The full-court press also hampered the Tech offense down the stretch as MIT shot 1-of-7 from beyond the arc despite shooting 45% in the first half.
Johnson added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to MIT’s totals while Zuk finished with 10 points. MIT shot 45.3% from the floor for the game, but Suffolk shot 64% in the second half to seal the win. The Engineers, who entered the game shooting 48% as a team from three-point range, finished a season-low 33.3% on 6-of-18 shooting.