WORCESTER, Mass. – Tournament Most Outstanding Player, junior Andrew Acker (Marion Station, Pa.), posted his 13th double-double of the season to headline four MIT players in double figures to help the fourth-seeded Engineers knock off third-seeded Springfield 67-56 in the championship game of the NEWMAC Men's Basketball Tournament played Sunday at WPI's Harrington Auditorium. Acker was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player after averaging 15.0 points and 10.7 rebounds in MIT's three-game run to the title.
The title is the fourth all-time for MIT - all in the last six years - and gives the Engineers (20-8) an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which begins next March 6-8 with first and second round play. It will be the sixth consecutive trip to the tournament for MIT, which will find out where it will be in the bracket when it is revealed during the NCAA Selection Show that will air on ncaa.com on Monday beginning at 12:30 p.m. It will be Springfield, who was appearing in its third straight title tilt, slips to 20-7 overall and awaits the tournament selection show on Monday to see if it is invited for a second straight year.
With MIT ahead 52-46 with just 4:00 minutes remaining, the Engineers worked a nifty play coming out of a timeout with just three seconds left on the shot clock and the ball being inbounded deep in the offensive corner. Sophomore Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) took a lob inbounds and flicked it to junior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.), who nailed a baby-hook from just outside the paint to put MIT up by eight. It would be the last bucket of the game for the Engineers, who drained 13-of-16 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
MIT led 31-29 at the break and, like its semifinal win the day before against top-seed WPI, quickly embarked upon a run, scoring seven straight points on a Redfield dunk, a trifecta from by junior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) trifecta and a Pedley jumper. Springfield would not get to within a single possession the rest of the way.
Acker amassed a team-best 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds en route to his double-double. Levene chipped in with 14 points, including canning all six of his free throw attempts and sophomore Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) and Redfield, who dodged foul trouble throughout the contest, each ended up with 13. Frankel capped a strong weekend showing by leading all players with seven assists while Acker grabbed all five of MIT's offensive rebounds, which were parlayed into seven points.
Robbie Burke (Cheshire, Mass.) paced all scorers with 24 points for Springfield. The senior connected on 9-of-16 attempts from the field and knocked down all six free throws attempts while totaling four boards, three assists and a steal. Classmate Sean Martin (Rindge, N.H.) was the other Pride player with 12 points to go along with five rebounds and fellow senior Tim Swenson (Millbury, Mass.) had a strong performance totaling a team-high eight rebounds and six points.
WPI Sports Information contributed to this release