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Men's Hoops Loses In Bisons' Revenge

By Daniel Wang
Associate Sports Editor

Last October, the headline of the article of the football game against Nichols College ("Beavers Buffalo Bisons," Oct. 26) was one of the best, if not the best, sports headline of 1993. When the Nichols basketball team came to Rockwell Cage Saturday afternoon, many were hoping for a repeat result. Unfortunately, that was not the case, but rather, almost the opposite.

In basketball, nine points is on the verge of entitling this article, "Bisons Buffalo Beavers." That was the margin of victory, as Nichols College defeated MIT, 82-73. The Bisons were ahead almost the entire game, and the Engineers/Beavers never came close, especially after the 43-32 deficit at halftime.

The figures were quite unusual in this game. The Engineers shot a low 32 percent from the field, and 27 percent from the three-point line, both of which Nichols beat percentage-wise. The biggest surprise was shooting from the free-throw line: the Engineers made 72 percent of its shots, including 81 percent (13 of 16) in the first half). The team had previously been struggling around 60 percent in the past.

Three players scored in double figures in this game. Tim Porter '96, who filled in for the absence of injured starting point guard Nikki Caruthers '95, led the team with 24 points, including four three-point field goals and perfect shooting from the free throw. Center Keith Whalen '96, followed with 16, and forward Joe Levesque added 14 points to the losing effort.

Interestingly, Whalen and his substitute Mark Heffernan '95 did not foul out of the game, as had been the case a number of times in the past. The only MIT player to foul out was Randy Hyun '95, who committed his fifth with two seconds left in the game. Hyun, who has been playing sub-par lately, especially from three-point land, had not even come close to fouling out in previous games. On this day, he scored only five points. Two games ago, he scored 17.

The crowds have also been increasingly larger than in past games. The attendance of 173 spectators is close to that of the last game, but noticeably greater than in games earlier in the season.

The record for the Engineers is now 5-11 overall, for the season. They have been on a four-game losing streak, but will try to break it Thursday night, at Connecticut College.

MIT falls in OT against Suffolk

The basketball game played against Suffolk University at Rockwell Cage on Registration Day, was unlike any other. There was an announcer to call the plays; Director of Sports Information Roger Crosley operated the microphones. A larger-than-usual crowd of 168 attended, including center Keith Whalen's high school coach. The side from MIT undoubtedly made their presence known. The obnoxious spectators often taunted the Suffolk players and coaches. Despite the distractions, the Rams were able to defeat the Engineers, 84-78 in overtime, in an exciting game that kept the crowd on its feet. The Engineers suffered their third consecutive loss, falling to 5-10 overall.

The loss was unfortunate for the MIT players, as they played an excellent game most of the way. Because of miscommunication, no one from the Tech Sports Staff saw the action in the first half. Coach Leo Osgood wanted to try something different from the Suffolk scouting report of MIT, and often ordered three-quarter court press. The team maintained a lead of at least three points throughout the first half, going up as high as eight points. However, four meaningless points brought the margin back down. MIT led 31-27 at halftime.

Second half action

Throughout the second half, some spectators reminded the Suffolk crew of its recent 114-69 loss to Babson College, as shown on the program. The same people also mocked Suffolk player Nike Vieira for missing his first eight shots.

Despite being down, the Rams never let MIT feel comfortable, with plays that forced the Engineers to be on their feet at all times. Suffolk finally went into the lead at 17:39, when Rams forward Rick Ace made a basket to tie the game at 37. Forward Tim Porter '96 fouled him, giving Ace a trip to the free throw line. His shot fell cleanly, giving the Rams at 37-36 lead. Soon afterwards, forward Joe Levesque '95 scored after making a fancy spinning move to give the Engineers the lead again. However, the Rams soon responded to take the lead at 16:33, with the score 40-38.

Seconds later, top shooting guard Randy Hyun '95 was wide open, but missed a three-point field goal attempt. Suffolk had a chance to score when one member set up for a three-pointer. He released the ball not knowing that Caruthers was quickly approaching behind him. Caruthers jumped up and tipped the ball away from the hoop.

Soon afterwards, the Engineers seemed to catch some fire, as they exploded for a seven-point run, sparked by a fast break play by Hyun. A few turnovers by Suffolk made the scoring possible.

The Rams then called a time out, which seemed to have been the right decision, as they tied at 12:55, with the score, 47-47, then went on the take the lead at 52-51 with 9:36 left in regulation.

Suffolk held the lead until late in the game, when a couple of error caused them to hand over the lead, With 3:34 left, a jumper by Caruthers brought the Engineers to a 66-63 lead. They would lose lead again, as the Suffolk players took advantage of fouls by scoring at the charity stripe.

Some missed free throws kept the game close, was the lead was never greater than two points, in the last minute of regulation. With 0:22 seconds left, Suffolk guard Chris Toglia made a finger roll, and drew Whalen's fourth foul at the same time. He added an extra point to bring Suffolk up, 71-69.

In the closing seconds, MIT players called two back-to-back time outs to regroup and rethink their strategy. Finally, with three seconds remaining, Hyun took a jumper which bounced off the back of the rim and into the basket.

Two seconds was not much time for the Rams to do anything, but possibly enough time to score a basket. The Rams attempted a play that resembled the last second pass from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner that Duke University pulled off to win over the University of Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The play this time, was unsuccessful, since the touchdown pass went a little farther than expected. Vieira attempted a shot from behind the backboard. Although the basket would not have counted, the ball almost went through the hole and left the crowd in suspense. As the buzzer sounded soon afterwards, Hyun's shot had helped send the game into overtime.

During the early part of overtime, the Rams appeared to be able to open up the floor, and make fairly easy baskets. Valiant attempts from the Engineers prevented many buckets but happened to draw fouls. In the first two minutes, Suffolk players went to the free throw line for four shots, sinking all them. The points, added to a field goal early on, put the Rams ahead 77-71 with 2:50 left in the overtime period.

The Engineers soon responded, as Hyun sank a three-pointer at 2:35. Seconds later, Carruthers added a two-point jumper, to pull the team within one, at 77-76.

MIT seemed to be back into the game when fouls continued to aggravate the Engineers. At 1:54, Heffernan blocked a shot, but was called for a foul, which allowed Rick Ace to score two from the line. At that point in the game the Engineers trailed by three, and started attempting shots from the three-point line, but to no avail. Caruthers, Hyun, Porter, and Levesque were a bombing squadron, but simply could not put the ball through the hoop. To the demise of the team, Heffernan fouled out at 1:22. Fouls painted a large part of the game's picture, as the Rams made only one field goal in the last three minutes of play.

With 18 seconds left in the game, Ace took a touchdown pass from the MIT side, and drove towards the basket. He attempted a lay-up when Caruthers sprinted, jumped, and knocked the ball out of his hands and off the glass. After the heroic effort, Caruthers fell, and hit his head and elbow on the floor. He was down for a few moments, as trainers rushed to his aid. He was able to get up, but had to leave the game, an unfortunate event in what was a superb game for him.

Hyun, who also tried to prevent the basket, was charged with a foul, which gave the player two shots at the free throw line. He made only one of two, but the score was 82-78, making another comeback very difficult for the Engineers, with the time remaining. A few seconds later, Porter intentionally fouled another Suffolk player, and having been charged five, was out of the game. That player made his two free throws to add some insurance points for the Rams. At the buzzer, Hyun attempted a shot from extreme long range, but missed. Although it wouldn't have made a difference, it reflected the outside shooting of the Engineers which didn't work late in the game.

From the field, neither team shot particularly well, especially MIT, who had a made 38 percent of its field goal attempts. Suffolk didn't do too much better. The most striking performances were in the other two shooting categories. The three-point shots didn't go through for MIT, as it made only two of 20 shots, included the many desperation attempts, which may have been rushed. From the free throw line, the team was on average with 61 percent, but the effort was no match for the 75 percent shooting by Suffolk. The number of buckets made from the stripe were noticeably different, possibly making the difference in the game; Suffolk made 24 of them, while MIT made only 14.

The statistics seemed to indicate a marvelous performance by the Engineers, as all five starters scored in the double figures. Caruthers, who consistently played at superhuman levels, led the team with 18 points. Hyun, despite a cold 1-for-8 shooting from long range, was next, with 17. Porter and Levesque both scored 13 points. Porter was also the only player in the game to have rebounds in double figures, with 13, to give him a double-double. Whalen, who was usually the high-point man, rounded out the starting five, with 10 points. Mark Heffernan '95 and Tyrell Rivers '95 were both rather quiet, adding two and zero points, respectively.

Osgood said, "Games are always a composition of highs and lows." He explained that while the team played hard, the opponents simply did some things right to come out on top. He was pleased with his players' performances, which he thought was more important than the final outcome. Osgood later said that he took a "calculated gamble" with his team's plays, and just came up short.

The team will travel to its next two games, first on Thursday against Connecticut College, then on Saturday, against the Wentworth Institute of Technology. The next home game will take place next Tuesday, against Tufts University.