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Men's Basketball Uses Late Effort to Sink Coast Guard

Thomas R. Karlo--The Tech
A player from the U.S. Coast Guard Bears hang his head as the MIT basketball team does a huddle cheer for their victory on Tuesday night.

By Thomas Kettler
Staff Reporter

With seven minutes remaining and 10 points separating the Engineers from the Coast Guard Academy Bears, the men's basketball team rebounded to win 6462 at Rockwell Cage Tuesday.

This win brought the Engineers to an even 33 overall and 12 in the Constitution Athletic Conference.

The entire team contributed to this victory. Four of the five starters finished in double figures: Center Keith Whalen '96 led with 14 points, followed by forward Mel Pullen '98 with 13, guard Randy Hyun '95 with 12, and guard Nikki Caruthers '95 with 11.

Pullen and Whalen also led the team in rebounds, with nine and six, respectively. Pullen topped the number of assists at four, while Whalen added three steals.

But both teams played a very physical game, resulting in 32 personal fouls committed overall. With so many fouls, players from the bench got their chance to play in the game.

"Our bench, while some of them did not score, gave us enormous help when Nikki Caruthers was in foul trouble in the first half," said Head Coach Leo Osgood. "I can't overemphasize the role of the guys from the bench. It doesn't necessarily show up in the stats."

The Engineers predominantly stuck with a man-to-man defense strategy.

"This team is beginning to grow with that concept more and more," Osgood said. "We played tough defense and that is what brought us through."

MIT edges out Bears at the half

Coast Guard jumped ahead in the first three minutes with a 102 run. MIT quickly recovered with a 103 run, highlighted by a field goal from forward Bill Winston '97.

With 3 minutes, 58 seconds left in the half, forward Joe Levesque '95 converted two free throws to give the Engineers their largest lead of the game at 2417. Coast Guard valiantly tied the game at 26 points with 0:32 left in the half, but guard Ron Cao '96 completed a free throw to give MIT a one-point lead at half-time, 27-26.

The physical nature of the game manifested itself 30 seconds into the second half. Coast Guard's Peter Keel received a technical foul for baiting MIT's Pullen into a fight after a personal foul was called on Pullen. Keel made both free throws, while MIT's Levesque made one of the two technical free throws. The score now stood tied at 28 points.

Caruthers made a field goal one minute later to give MIT the lead at 3028. But MIT was unable to defend itself as Coast Guard scored seven points unanswered in the next three minutes. At five minutes into the period, the score stood at 3530.

Coast Guard continued to shoot well, gaining a 5242 lead with 7:09 left in the period. MIT quickly clawed back into the game with an 111 run with 5:30 to play. Whalen scored a field goal with 4:00 to play, bringing the score to a 5555 tie.

The Engineers finally regained the lead with Hyun's three-point shot with 2:35 left in the game. With precious seconds left at 6462, Hyun sealed MIT's victory by stealing the ball from a Coast Guard player as the clock expired.

Neither team shot well from the floor in the first half, with the Bears shooting 46 percent to the Engineers 40 percent. Individually, Whalen led the team with eight points, while Levesque contributed six. Pullen led the team in rebounds with five at the break.

Overall, the difference in the game was free throws. While Coast Guard shot 57 percent from the floor - with 68 percent shooting in the second half - to 42 percent for MIT, the Engineers countered at the line with an incredible 83 percent with 1518 while the Bears shot 73 percent on free throws with only 811.