CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The nationally-ranked No. 5 MIT men's basketball team erased a 13-point deficit with stingy defense and timely shooting to defeat Babson College, 59-47, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Wednesday night in Rockwell Cage. The Engineers held the Beavers without a field goal for a 12:22 stretch in the second half and limited Babson to just 15 points after the intermission to improve to 21-1 and 9-1 in the NEWMAC. Babson drops to 11-12 and 4-6 in the conference after losing its third straight league game.
Junior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) led all scorers with 13 points while playing all 40 minutes. The point guard also dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds. Senior Noel Hollingsworth (Salt Lake City, Utah) was in double figures with 10 points to go along with four rebounds. Junior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) finished one point shy of a double-double, grabbing 10 boards.
Junior Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, N.Y.) picked up double figure points and rebounds, finishing with 10 and 12, respectively, while also stuffing the stat sheet with five steals and three assists. Marcus McDermott (Milton, Mass.) was the high-scorer for Babson with 12 points.
McDermott's jumper at the 16:03 mark of the second half gave Babson its largest lead of the night at 40-27. From there the Tech defense dug in, holding the visitors scoreless for nearly 10 minutes and limiting them to just two field goals the rest of the way.
The Cardinal and Gray slowly chipped away at the deficit midway through the period, as senior Daniel McCue (Hampden, Maine) knocked down a three-pointer from the wing to close the gap to six, 40-34, and force a Babson timeout with 13:28 to play. Tashman would then convert a tough layup on Tech's next possession before canning a jumper a few minutes later to get his team within two.
After three Babson free throws by David Mack (Holden, Mass.) stretched the lead back to five, MIT responded with eight straight points on a layup from Hollingsworth and back-to-back three-pointers from senior Jamie Karraker (Morgantown, W. Va.) and McCue to put the hosts on top for the first time all night.
The MIT defense would force Babson into five turnovers down the stretch and convert some key free-throws to hold on for its 21st win of the season.
Babson jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead and took a 32-25 advantage into the intermission thanks to eight first-half points from Braithwaite and Alex Rudolph (Bal Harbour, Fla.).
The Engineers shot an uncharacteristic 15-for-26 from the foul line but made 11-of-12 down the stretch to seal the win. After allowing Babson to make 14-of-24 first-half shots, the Cardinal and Gray held its opponent to 28.6% field goal shooting in the second.
MIT will hit the road for its final two games of the regular season, traveling to central Massachusetts to take on a pair of Worcester-area foes. Tech will play at Clark University on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and faces WPI in the season-finale on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m. Babson will face Wheaton College next Wednesday at home.