Defense Carries Men’s Basketball Past Salem State, 73-37

Junior Lampros Tsontzos
Junior Lampros Tsontzos

SALEM, Mass. – A strong second half defensive effort by the No. 11 MIT men's basketball team helped the Engineers record a 73-37 non-conference win at Salem State University this evening. Junior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) led MIT in scoring with 21 points, with the Engineers defense holding the Vikings to just 12 second half points in the victory.

Salem State (3-2) took an early 5-2 lead on a three-point shot by Nicholas Grassa, but Pedley answered with back-to-back treys to put MIT (5-1) on top, 8-5. The lead then changed hands six times over the next four minutes and with 12:20 left in the half the two sides found themselves tied at 15-15 on a layup by the Vikings' Bryan Ortiz. 

A minute later a basket by senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) put MIT back on top, with shots by junior Lampros Tsontzos (Amarousion, Greece) and Pedley extending the Engineers lead to 21-15. Salem State crept back to within a point on a three by Jon Perez and a layup from Chris Parenteau with six minutes left in the half, but it was as close as the Vikings would come. From there MIT outscored Salem State 13-5 the rest of the half, with six of the points coming from Levene as the Engineers took a 34-25 lead into the locker room.

Pedley hit the fist shot attempt of the second half to push the MIT lead into double figures and it turned out to be the beginning of a 14-0 run to start the half. Salem State missed its first 18 field goal attempts of the half, with the only points in the first 10 minutes coming on a Grassa free throw. Pedley and Levene hit three-pointers in the span as the Engineers opened a 50-25 lead on a layup by Tsontzos.

Grassa finally picked up the first field goal of the half for Salem State at the 8:32 mark, but by that time the Vikings trailed by 28 points and the deficit was too much to make up. With less than six minutes left MIT put the finishing touches on the win, scoring six straight points, four by Levene, as the Engineers pushed their advantage past the 30-point mark.

Levene joined Pedley in double figures with 19 points for the Engineers, with sophomore Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) adding 11 points and five assists for MIT, which shot 57.7 percent from the floor. Tsontzos came off the bench to lead the team with nine rebounds while adding 12 points. Salem State, which hit just four shots in 29 attempts in the second half, was led by Grassa's nine points. Marcus Faison led the Vikings with six rebounds.

MIT will stay on the road for its next game, playing at Framingham State University on Saturday, December 6 at 1:00 p.m. Salem State will also play on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., taking on Brandeis University as part of the New England Classic hosted by the Judges.