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Men's Basketball Falls to 2-7 Despite Good Rebounding

By Haider A. Hamoudi
Advertising Manager

The men's basketball team was defeated in its last two home games, dropping the first to a strong U.S. Coast Guard Academy and narrowly losing the second to New England College. The Engineers have now fallen to 2-7 for the season.

The Coast Guard game was close for the first few minutes of the first half, with the Coast Guard Bears opening up an early 10-7 lead. Soon after this, however, the Coast Guard scored 15 points to MIT's two, thus widening their lead to 25-9.

The Bears built their lead to 19 points before a Coast Guard player was called for a blocking foul. The Bears' head coach, Pete Barry, who had felt the need to question every call the officials had made up to that point, thought that this was an exceptionally bad call because the foul should have been, in his opinion, charging against MIT. Barry began to run up and down the sidelines uncontrollably with his hand behind his head until he was finally given a technical foul, after which he stopped running but kept his hand behind his head for the remainder of the half, constantly reminding the referees of their unforgivable error.

As a result of the technical foul, MIT was able to reduce the lead to 14 points, but before the half was over, Coast Guard scored four unanswered points, and the Engineers went into the locker room down 42-24.

The Bears widened the gap even further in the second half, despite the magnificent efforts of Captain Nikki Carruthers '95. With his team down 57-34 midway through the second half, Carruthers hit a three-point shot to bring the lead down to 20.

Carruthers then made a 10-foot field goal to make the score 57-39. Before fouling out with 5:53 remaining, the MIT captain managed to make two more three-pointers (he was 75 percent from behind the three point line for the day), as well as two rebounds. Largely because of his effort, the Coast Guard lead shrunk to sixteen. But the Engineers were never to get any closer than this, and when the game was over, the Bears had triumphed 82-57.

Despite the score, the Engineers performed well in some categories. They shot an excellent 55.6 percent from behind the three-point line, and Keith Whalen '96 captured eight rebounds, a big part of the team's total of 27. However, the Engineers shot abysmally from the field, averaging only 39 percent as a team. This figure can be compared with the 67 percent field goal percentage of the Coast Guard Academy. While the Bears did have some excellent shooters on their team, part of the reason their percentage was so high was the poor performance of the MIT defense, which seemed confused and unable to deal with the quick Bears offense.

Pilgrim game much closer

The Engineers played a much closer game last Monday night against the New England College Pilgrims. At first it appeared as if the Engineers might be able to run away with this game when they scored the first 10 points of the first half.

The Pilgrims were able to quickly reduce this lead to five points, but, led by Mark Milton '93, who had three steals in two minutes, MIT reasserted itself quickly, going on a 13-2 run to make the score 26-10 midway through the first half. Showing remarkable persistence, the Pilgrims slowly climbed back into the game, and by halftime the score was 38-37.

During the first five minutes of the second half, the game was very close and the lead changed several times. However, with 11:22 remaining, Stacey Messiah registered the only dunk of the entire game, and this seemed to spark the Pilgrims. They soon extended their lead to 11 points, and though MIT was able to reduce this to five with only minutes remaining, New England College held on to their lead and won the game 80-76.

MIT again rebounded well in this game, pulling down six more than their opponents. Whalen and Victor Van Bertel '96 led the Engineers with nine rebounds each. Whalen was the leading scorer for the Engineers with 17 points, but it was Travis Aronson of the Pilgrims who led all scorers with 34.

The Engineers played much better defensively in this game than in the Coast Guard matchup. They were more successful at preventing easy layups, and the ball did not get inside as often as it had for the Coast Guard. The field goal percentage was also better, but the Engineers shot much worse from behind the three-point line, averaging only 15.4 percent in this region.

But undoubtedly the team's most glaring weakness is its free throw percentage. In the second half of the game against New England College, when they needed to make free throws to reduce the lead, they shot a horrendous 33.3 percent. Over the past two games, MIT has averaged 51.4 percent from the free throw line, barely edging out Random Hall's C league intramural team, which has made exactly half of its free throw shots in its past two games. In contrast, their opponents have averaged about 64 percent from the line.

The team's next home game is Thursday night at 8 p.m.