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Basketball Team Silences Pratt, Excites Crowd

By Daniel E. Wang
Staff Reporter

The men's basketball team soundly defeated Pratt Institute, 90-56, at Rockwell Cage on Saturday. The game brought the season's record for the Engineers to 4-7.

In front of a capacity crowd, the game generated a lot of excitement, with many spectacular plays, and players spilling all over the floor, as they constantly fought for the ball.

Although the Engineers started out with the lead, and never lost it, the game was quite close in the first half. Pratt played a tenacious full-court defense and trapped MIT players who had the ball. In the first minute, guard Randy Hyun '95, had a three-point field goal attempt blocked by a defender.

Pratt showed very rough and scrappy play from the outset. In the first seven and a half minutes of play, Pratt's players had a total of seven fouls, with each one after, automatically sending an MIT player to the free throw line.

Pratt also showed some penetrating inside play. At 15:05, a Cannoneer found himself open, and hit a two-handed jam. However, the defense often left the perimeter open for MIT's outside shooters. Hyun, the team's top long-range shooter, found himself wide open during the first five minutes of play, and was able to sink two of four three-pointers in less than a minute.

The Engineers showed a lot of defense that matched their opponents, and were able to make steals, and cause turnovers. MIT had many fastbreak opporutnities early on, but was unable to convert.

Near the end of the first half, Pratt had many chances to tie, and possibly take the lead, but had trouble putting the ball in the basket. When the score was close, MIT took advantage of their opponents to make more baskets, and open up the lead. With about seven minutes before halftime, starting center Keith Whalen `96 maneuvered and fought through traffic, to bounce the ball off the glass, and into the bucket. His field goal made the score 23-16.

Right away, Pratt fought back and made the score 23-22 at the six-minute mark. From this moment, MIT started turning up the intensity; Pratt tried to follow suit, and action started heating up.

With 4:50 left on the clock, Pratt starting guard Clinton Powell tried to evade MIT defenders by spinning, before passing off to a teammate. He lost control and fell, hitting his knee on the floor. The injury stopped play, and caused him to be taken out for a few minutes. The Cannoneers were caught off-guard when played resumed. With almost no defense, forward Joe Levesque '95 drove to the hoop. Hayward fouled him out of desperation, but could not prevent the field goal from being made. Levesque made the foul shot afterwards, to make the score 31-24.

Even though the Engineers were up by seven, Pratt continued to be tough, as it consistently used a full-court press, often double- and triple-teaming MIT's ball handlers. With a little less than three minutes remaining in the first half, Levesque and Hyun spilled on the floor with two Pratt players, in a valiant effort to grab a loose ball. Hyun was able to hold on to the ball, and cause the referee to call a jump ball.

Right after the play, Osgood substituted Bernard Chang '97 for Nikki Carruthers `95 at point guard. Chang opened his varsity career facing pressure from the defense, as he tried to clear the ball out of the MIT half of the court. Chang's quickness allowed him to break up the traps, and pass off to his teammates.

At the beginning of the second half, the game seemed to be one that going to come down to the final buzzer. Pratt matched points with MIT, and then with an additional field goal, cut its deficit to one point, at 41-40.

A few minutes later, the Engineers caught on fire, and pulled away. At 14:02, Carruthers stole an inbound pass, and converted it into an easy two points. Seconds later, at 13:45, Hyun stole a pass in the Pratt half of the court, and drove for an open lay-up. These two plays helped spark a 24-4 run for the Engineers, giving them a comfortable margin that it did not ever come close to losing.

During that run, John Fluker '96 responded to pressure by drawing a foul from Hayward, who was in his face, at 11:11. The foul happened to be the fifth, causing the starting forward, who had been a big part of the game, to depart. After sitting down, he taunted the referee. The result was a technical foul, which sent Levesque to the line for a quick two points.

With less than eight minutes left, Pratt committed two more technical fouls in less than 30 seconds. The first, at 7:40, was assessed to Powell, who attempted driving towards the hoop, but found forward Tim Porter '96 in his way. Powell knocked Porter, and the referee ruled it was intentional.

The second technical was given at 7:17, to the Pratt coach, who was unhappy about a call made by the referee. Although an MIT player missed both resulting free throws, the event reflected the Cannoneer's foul trouble.

Pratt's two starting guards fouled out of the game, while two other starters, and a bench player, came dangerously close, with four fouls each. The consequence was 48 free throws for the Engineers, who made 29 of them.

With 3:19 left in the game, MIT was up, 82-54. As the two-minute mark passed by, Pratt started making desperation three-point attempts, but could not connect on any of them. The Engineers shut down the attack of the Cannoneers, who went the last 6:37 without a field goal.

In the numbers game, MIT fared far better than its adversary. MIT shot a consistent 50 percent of its field goals. Pratt meanwhile, shot a dismal 27 percent form the field. The Cannoneers had attempted many more shots than the Engineers, but made less of them.

From the foul line, MIT shot 60 percent, a little lower than average. Pratt was actually close in this area, but had far fewer shots. MIT's 27 percent shooting from the three-point line, was also lower than usual, but better than Pratt's 15 percent.

Rebounding and fouls were other areas of striking differences. MIT players grabbed 59 boards, mostly on defense, significantly more than the Cannoneers, who had 45 rebounds. While the 32 fouls by Pratt allowed MIT to increase its margin of victory, the Engineers limited the number of free points they allowed to their competitor, with only 23 fouls.

Although Whalen, the team's leading scorer, had a relatively low 13 points for the night, the distribution of points among the team was quite impressive, with four starter s, and one bench player scoring in double figures.

Whalen led the team in rebounds, with 11 boards, to finish the night with a double-double. Next came Hyun, with 9, and Levesque, with 8. While Heffernan had only five rebounds, all defensive, he was a contributor with a team-leading four blocks.