June 2, 2006
TAOYUAN COUNTY, Taiwan - In what Head Coach Larry Anderson referred to as the "most incredible feeling in his 11 years at MIT," the Engineers rolled to an 80-68 championship win over Taiwan's SBL pro team in the week's most highly anticipated matchup. After a quick start by SBL, MIT turned up its defensive pressure and showcased its balanced offense to gain a lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
The two teams traded baskets for much of the first quarter, but a three pointer by Will Mroz started a small run which Mike D'Auria capped with another deep three that forced an uncharacteristic timeout from SBL's national squad. As the second quarter began, both team traded baskets before Hamidou Soumare made his presence felt with two altered shots, a lay-up, and a thunderous block which brought the capacity crowd to its feet.
The defensive pressure enabled the Engineers to assemble a run on the offensive end, which included back-to-back three pointers by Jimmy Bartolotta and D'Auria. MIT continued its tough international play with unwavering focus. D'Auria converted both free throws after being dropped to the floor with a hard foul. Minutes later, Alex Krull converted a three-point play off a steal as SBL's frustrated unit was charged with a flagrant foul, giving MIT another possession before the end of the first half.
In his last game ever as an MIT player, D'Auria closed the half with 19 points and four three-point field goals. MIT led 44-30 at the break, holding SBL well below its normal offensive output for the week.
As the third quarter opened, the atmosphere was even more electrifying.
"The intensity was unmatched," exclaimed Anderson. "In my 19 years of coaching, I have never seen something like this...both the level of play and the enthusiasm of the crowd."
Relentless defensive pressure and a strong command on the offensive glass created momentum for the surging Engineers, and with 5:21 left in the frame, Taiwan's national squad used another timeout in an effort to slow MIT's swagger. However, after the timeout, an acrobatic two-handed slam dunk by Soumare, another Dou lay-up, and five straight points by Mroz extended MIT's advantage to an improbable 22 points (61-39).
Brilliant play created a formidable stat line for Dou in the third quarter alone as he collected 12 points and six boards. Mroz hit his third three pointer of the game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter before SBL went on a run of its own. Taiwan's pro team closed the gap to 72-62 with accurate three-point shooting and consecutive fast break points with five minutes left in the game, although Bartolotta sank a free throw to snap a 15-2 run and ensure MIT of the Kainan Tournament championship trophy.
"We played inspired basketball today," commented assistant coach Oliver Eslinger. "This was by far the most exciting game I have ever been a part of."
"What a way for the seniors to go out!" added an elated Coach Anderson, referring to the victory that saw D'Auria close his legendary career with 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals, and Gary Atkins get one more win before graduation. Dou added a double-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Bartolotta and Mroz each chipped in with 13 points a piece, with Mroz snagging eight caroms off the glass and Bartolotta dishing out three dimes. MIT outrebounded SBL, 38-26, while forcing 19 turnovers.