CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 4 seed MIT hit six three-point shots in the first half to help build a six-point halftime lead as the Engineers went on to take a 64-56 victory over No. 5 seed Emerson College in a quarterfinal game of the New England Men's and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men's Basketball Tournament. Freshman Dakota Pierce (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) led MIT with a career-high 18 points while senior Jon Goldberg (Stowe, Vt.) led Emerson with 16 points. MIT (18-8) will now move on to play No. 1 seed WPI in a semifinal game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Emerson (13-13) got off to a 4-1 lead two and a half minutes in after a layup from sophomore Brian Hurley (South Boston, Mass.). MIT came back to tie things at four-all on a free throw by junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.), but the Lions maintained their early advantage, going up 7-4 after a free throw by sophomore Michael Thorpe (Newton, Mass.).
Sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) hit the first of his three first half treys at the 12:39 mark to give MIT its first lead of the contest at 9-7. There were three more lead changes over the next two minutes before a three from sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) put the Engineers on top for good, 15-13.
From there MIT slowly grew its advantage, taking it out to nine points on a Redfield layup with a little more than three minutes left in the half. A three by Goldberg was the only other scoring in the half, however, as the Engineers, who drained 6-of-13 from behind the arc, took a 30-24 lead at the half.
Emerson started the second half with baskets from Hurley and sophomore Kyle Edwards (Potomac, Md.) in the first minute that quickly cut the MIT lead down to just two points. Pierce and junior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) hit on back-to-back shots to answer the charge by the Lions and the Engineers went on to grow their lead to nine points midway through the half on a free throw by Acker.
Six straight points by Emerson, with the last two coming on layups by Thorpe, brought the Lions back to within three at 41-38 with nine minutes to play. Emerson missed on its next four field goal attempts and MIT took advantage, outscoring the Lions 7-1 to regain a nine-point lead at 48-39 with 5:14 left on an Acker free throw.
Goldberg hit a shot to get Emerson back within seven, but Pierce answered with a trey on the other end and baskets by Acker and junior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) pushed MIT to a 14-point advantage with 3:17 left. That proved to be too big a lead for Emerson to overcome, as the Engineers hit on seven of 10 free throw attempts down the stretch to ice the win and move on to the semifinals on Saturday.
Acker finished with his 12th double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds for MIT. The Engineers, who held a 42-34 advantage on the boards over Emerson, also saw Redfield reach double figures on the boards with 11. Frankel also reached double figures in the scoring column, finishing with 14. For Emerson, Thorpe added 14 points, with Edwards finishing with 10. Hurley paced the Lions with nine rebounds and added three blocked shots.