MIT Shoots Its Way Past Wheelock, 81-51

Sophomore Russell Johnson
Sophomore Russell Johnson

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT shot 56 percent from the field and had four players reach double figures in scoring as the Engineers took an 81-51 decision over Wheelock College in non-conference men's basketball play this afternoon. Junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) and sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) each hit for 20 points to lead MIT, while sophomore Joe Reedy (Orlando, Fla.) led Wheelock with 14 points.

Thanks to layups by Reedy and freshman Derek Fournier (Johnston, R.I.), Wheelock (0-8) took the lead twice in the opening minutes, with Fournier's shot giving the Wildcats a 4-2 edge at the 16:09 mark in a slow starting game for both sides. MIT (8-2) tied the game on a layup by Acker and then got five straight points from Pedley to take a 9-4 advantage.

Wheelock stayed close, with a trey from senior Paul Coucci (Dartmouth, Mass.) getting the Wildcats within a pair at 9-7. Two minutes later Wheelock edged another point closer when a layup by senior Andrew Kirkman (Dartmouth, Mass.) made it 13-12 with 11:15 left in the half. The Wildcats still trailed by just three after another layup from Kirkman, but Pedley answered with back-to-back threes that started a 12-0 run by the Engineers as they jumped out to a 29-14 lead on a lay in by sophomore Lampros Tsontzos (Amarousion, Greece).

Wheelock, which shot just 28 percent in the half, could not come up with an answer to the MIT surge. The Engineers steadily increased their lead over the final minutes of the half, pulling out to a 44-20 advantage on a layup by Acker in the final minute. Fournier hit a three in the final seconds for Wheelock to make it a 44-23 game at the half.

The two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the second half, but MIT then put together a run that put the game out of reach. A trey by sophomore Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) two minutes in sparked a 21-7 spurt by the Engineers over a seven-minute span. Johnson, who posted career-highs with 16 points and 16 rebounds, closed the run with another trey to make it a 67-32 lead with 11:13 to go.

Wheelock came back with back-to-back baskets by Reedy and freshman Nicholas Fenton (East Hartford, Conn.), but the Wildcats could not come up with the big run they needed to get back into the game. Johnson, who nailed all four of his three-point attempts, hit another with 6:35 left that pushed the MIT lead back past 30 points at 75-41 with 6:35 left.

Wheelock could not get closer than 28 points the rest of the way as MIT went on to record its fifth straight win. Acker also recorded a double-double for the Engineers, matching Johnson with 16 boards to help MIT to a 49-20 edge on the boards. Tsontzos was in double figures as well for the Engineers with a career best 12 points.  For Wheelock, Fournier finished with 13 points, while Reedy and Fenton each had five rebounds to lead the team.

MIT will be off until January, not returning to the court until January 8 when the Engineers will open New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference play against Clark University at 7:00 p.m. in Rockwell Cage. Wheelock is also done until after the first of the year, with its next game coming on January 6 when it hosts Emerson College at 6:00 p.m.