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Second half surge puts Engineers over Wentworth

By Shawn Mastrian

MIT rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first half to defeat a tough Wentworth Institute team, 57-47, in the men's basketball season opener Saturday night. The game was tight up to the final minute, but the Engineers pulled away by scoring the last nine points to seal the victory.

Trae Shattuck '90 and Chris Sonne '91 provided the momentum which fueled the come-from-behind victory. Shattuck was a force in the lane, snaring 12 rebounds and sinking foul shots in the clutch. He also caused the Leopards' three big men to foul out, which was a major factor in sealing the victory for the Engineers. Sonne led the team in scoring with 18 points and gave MIT its first lead with a three-pointer. His three-pointers also helped close the deficit when the Engineers were down.

The start of the game was sloppy as it was plagued by numerous fouls and turnovers. This helped Wentworth jump out to an early 7-2 lead. Mike Duffy '92 and Dave Tomlinson '91 hit short jumpers to close the deficit, but the Leopards then went on a 14-4 run to extend their lead to 21-10.

MIT began to engineer their comeback at this point. Shattuck, who had 17 points on the evening, hit four consecutive free-throws after a foul and a technical. Duffy then powered in two off a dish from Sonne and the deficit was closed to five. Wentworth was forced to call timeout to break the momentum.

The Leopards came out after the timeout and extended their lead to seven. But Brian Lawrence '91 canned a 17-foot jumper and Sonne nailed a three-pointer after he stole the ball to put MIT within two. He then snared a rebound in the paint, was fouled, and sank one free-throw to put MIT within one. Wentworth extended its lead to five, but a tip-in by Shattuck made the score 27-24, Wentworth, at the half.

Head coach Leo Osgood, Jr. took this opportunity to wake up his troops. This was apparent as the team came out and played with new intensity. Geoff Mobisson '91 hustled to keep the ball in MIT hands on one play, which went for naught, but he came back the next trip and scored on a layup off a pass from Lawrence. After a Wentworth free-throw, Sonne drove the lane, spun, and tied the game on a layup. Another Wentworth basket was matched by a Duffy tip-in, and the score was 32 all.

Wentworth would not wilt this easily. The Leopards executed a five-point run, assisted by questionable officiating. Duffy was ejected from the game fighting for a rebound during this time; to most observers it did not even appear as if a foul had occurred. This, however, did not bother the Engineers.

Good hustle by Doug Jeffery '92 kept the ball alive for MIT, and soon thereafter Sonne drilled his second three-pointer of the day. A Wentworth foul shot was answered by two from Shattuck and another three-pointer by Sonne. The Engineers had their first lead, 38-36.

One foul shot by Dave DellaGrotte '90 and two by Sonne helped keep MIT ahead, but the Leopards kept clawing back. Two foul shots of their own and a basket gave them a one point lead at 42-41. Shattuck swished two foul shots to momentarily put the Engineers back on top, but Wentworth soon took a two-point lead on a free throw and a breakaway layup.

All the fouling finally began to catch up to Wentworth. They lost their starting big forward as he hacked Tomlinson, and on the next series their starting center got to ride the pine as he fouled Shattuck. Shattuck's foul shots tied the game at 45.

Wentworth took their final lead here on one free-throw. DellaGrotte then dished a perfect pass to Shattuck to put MIT ahead for good, 47-46. After Tomlinson and Wentworth each got one free throw, Tomlinson drilled a jumper from the top of the key and iced the game with another free-throw. DellaGrotte made sure that the lead would stand up with some adept ballhandling and two more foul shots. By then the game was all but over (Sonne and Shattuck each had two more points afterwards) and MIT was en route to a victory.

This year's team looks good, showing character in coming from behind to put the game away. The defense and foul-shooting were the keys to victory, the second coming as a pleasant surprise after the team had trouble with this last year. The fact that the Engineers were down by one with minutes to play, but outscored Wentworth 12-1 down the stretch is a positive sign for even the most cynical observer.