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Men's Basketball Edges Curry, Snaps Losing Streak

By Oscar Yeh
Staff Reporter

The men's basketball team broke a three game losing streak on Jan. 19 with a 83-80 win over Curry College. A balanced offensive effort coupled with a solid defense paved the way to victory, but the uncharacteristically rowdy crowd also played a major role in the win by exhorting the Engineers throughout the second half.

Over the weekend, the Engineers lost to a strong Nichols College team on the road. As a result, their record fell to 3-8.

As with their last game against New England College, the Engineers broke out to an early 9-0 lead after a Nikki Carruthers '95 three-pointer. The Colonels, however, responded with a full-court press that was to bother the Engineers throughout the first half. Two back to back turnovers brought Curry to within one, and from that point on, the game was extremely close as the lead changed frequently between the two evenly matched teams.

However, the Engineers did make a short run late in the first half after a three-pointer by freshman Tim Porter and a solo breakaway basket by Carruthers to make the score 39-32. The Colonels were persistent, however, and a three pointer at the buzzer left MIT with a 41-39 lead at halftime.

The game became more intense in the second half as MIT fans began showering insults at the Colonels with each time a player would step up to the foul line. The referees also got their share of abuse from both the crowd and the MIT players, and the bench picked up the only technical foul of the game at the 13:21 mark.

Both teams built brief five point margins at different points in the half, but neither could break the game open. With just under five minutes remaining, Curry College clung tenaciously to a one point lead. A controversial blocking foul called by the referees against the Engineers brought the crowd to its feet in outrage, and nearly every MIT fan began signaling for a charge.

The incident would prove to be the spark for the Engineers. Rallying behind chants of "defense" from the crowd, MIT forced a 45-second call against the Colonels and then blocked a shot on the following possession. With these two superb defensive efforts, MIT built a small lead and forced Curry to foul in vain in the remaining minute.

An extremely balanced MIT offense resulted in all five starters scoring in double figures. In addition, the Engineers benefitted from a strong bench effort led by Tim Porter '96 and Mark Heffernan '95, who contributed eleven and nine points respectively. The leading rebounder was Victor van Berkel '96 who pulled down nine in the course of the game.

An important factor in the win was 76 percent free throw shooting down the stretch, which secured the MIT victory. It seemed as if each Engineer who stepped to the line remembered a recent comparison of the Engineers' free throw shooting average and that of Random Hall's C league team.