Men's Basketball Rallies to Beat Clark, 59-52, to Clinch Second-Straight 20-Win Season

Men's Basketball Rallies to Beat Clark, 59-52, to Clinch Second-Straight 20-Win Season

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - No. 11 MIT rallied from a seven-point second-half deficit to down visiting Clark, 59-52, in New England Women's and Men's Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action on Thursday night at Rockwell Cage. The Engineers outscored the Cougars by 13 over the final 20 minutes to improve to 20-2, reaching the 20-win plateau for the second consecutive campaign. They stand alone in first-place in the NEWMAC at 8-1. Clark drops to 12-10 overall and 3-6 in conference play with the loss. The win was also the 200th in the career of Tech head coach, Larry Anderson, who is the winningest coach in Institute history.  

Trailing, 38-31, just over five minutes into the second stanza, MIT reeled off six straight points, on a conventional three-point play by Noel Hollingsworth and layups by Mitchell Kates and Billy Bender, to cut the Clark lead to one. Brian Vayda responded with a three-ball to put the Cougars back up four. The teams would then go the next three and a half minutes without scoring, until Jimmy Burke converted a layup on a feed from Kates. Burke then made a good hustle play for a steal on the ensuing Clark possession and drained a trifecta with 7:08 to go to put the Cardinal and Gray on top at 43-41. The lead was the first for MIT since the score was 4-3 and it would be a lead the Engineers would not relinquish.

Chris LoPiano drained a tough, leaning jump shot and drew a foul in the process, as Clark would get back within one with 2:36 to go. However, Burke would respond with another three-point shot at the other end to put MIT back up, 56-52. The visitors had a pair of possessions trailing by four in the final two minutes, but each ended in a turnover and they would get no closer. MIT converted three-of-four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

A layup by Hollingsworth put Tech up, 4-3, just over two minutes into the game but Clark would go on a 11-2 run from there, including three in a row from beyond the arc, for its biggest lead of the night, 14-6, at the 12:46 mark. A 7-1 spurt toward the end of the half as the lead swelled to seven. Burke nailed a three with 34 seconds to go but Mark Alexander hit a layup at the buzzer to put the Cougars up, 30-24, at the break. Clark shot a blistering 55.6% from the three-point line in the first half, but would make just two-of-nine after that.

Hollingsworth led the way for MIT, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth game of the season with at least 20 points and 10 boards. Burke had 14, on four-of-seven shooting from three-point range. Kates poured in 13 to go along with three assists. Will Tashman finished with eight points and eight caroms. The Engineers held a 31-17 edge on the glass, including seven on the offensive end.

Alexander was the high-scorer for Clark with 17, along with three assists. Brian Vayda had 15 points, three assists and two rebounds.

MIT will host Coast Guard on Saturday, February 13 at 2:00 p.m., in its final home game of the season, while Clark welcomes Springfield on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.