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Men's Basketball Extends Home Winning Streak

By Thomas Kettler and Daniel Wang
Staff Reporters

In a game marred by fighting afterwards, the men's basketball team finished a perfect week Saturday by toppling the Kings Point Mariners of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy by a score of 55­54, at Rockwell Cage.

The victory made the Engineers 3­0 for the week, after victories over Curry College and Clark University, for a record of 6­4 overall and 2­2 in the Constitution Athletic Conference.

Narrow win over Mariners

After an early Mariner lead of 3­0, Joe Levesque '95 scored the Engineers' first points two minutes into the game. Two minutes later, Levesque gave MIT its first lead of the game with a field goal to make the score 4­3.

The Engineers kept the lead throughout the first half while the Mariners could not score for a six minute period. In a harbinger of what would come, Kings Point's Sal Braico with six minutes left got a technical foul after a personal foul was called on him. MIT converted all four free throws, with Joe Levesque and Randy Hyun '95 each making two. The Engineers' lead went to 12 before a last second field goal by the Mariners made the halftime score 31­21.

The second half continued to be very physical as the officials continued not to call fouls for pushes and hard checks. Kings Point had an early run to cut the lead to one but could not take the lead for the first 10 minutes of the half.

Later, the Mariners' Kevin Wise with seven minutes left, was called for an intentional foul against Nikki Caruthers '95 but Caruthers failed to convert both free throws.

With four minutes left, Kings Point finally retook the lead 48­47. For the rest of the game, the lead changed five times until Caruthers converted two free throws with six seconds left to give MIT a lead of 55­54. The Mariners' Brian Coyne failed in his field goal attempt at the buzzer, to give MIT the one-point victory.

The fight broke out soon after the game. Some pushing and shoving started in the stands, involving parents and fans of Kings Point, then carried onto the court. At least 50 people were involved in the donnybrook.

According to head coach Leo Osgood, Tyrell Rivers '95 had gone to the bleachers to greet Mark Milton '93. Then "everyone just flowed out of the stands and it went right across half court," Osgood said.

One MIT police officer was surrounded when he tried to quell the fighting. Osgood eventually stopped the fracas, and ordered everyone off the court.

"It wasn't MIT players or athletes, it was a lot of outsiders," Osgood said.

Overall, neither team shot very well. MIT shot 33 percent from the floor while Kings Point did even worse, with a dismal 29 percent. The difference in the game was free throw shooting, since the Engineers converted 60 percent from the line to the Mariners 48 percent.

Three MIT players scored in double figures with Levesque scoring 13 to Caruthers' and Hyun's 12. Keith Whalen '96 led the team in rebounds with 13. The team also made an uncharacteristic six blocks, led by Mel Pullen '97 who recorded two.

"It wasn't a pretty win but as I tell my students, ŒA win is a win is a win,' " Osgood said.

Comeback against Curry

Last Thursday, the Engineers moved over a .500 winning percentage with an 87­66 blowout over Curry College at home. They erased a 36­31 deficit at halftime on the way to victory.

The two teams traded the lead back and forth early in the first half. MIT moved to a lead of 29­23, with 4 minutes, 50 seconds remaining. Despite shooting problems, Curry players often easily penetrated the Engineer defense to score, and gained extra points off of turnovers. As a result, the Colonels moved into the lead about three and a half minutes later and reached its largest lead just before halftime.

The second half was a different story. MIT used heavy defensive pressure on the ball and forced Curry to cough up the ball on numerous occasions. This defensive stand led to easy baskets for the Engineers, and eventually led to a rout.

MIT actually tied the score early in the second half, only to see Curry regain the lead. The Engineers took over with a little less than 11 minutes left to play, when Whalen scored inside over two defenders. He was fouled and sank the ensuing free throw.

Soon after the 10­minute mark, the Colonels went scoreless for more than four minutes, which started a 24­3 explosion that brought the Engineers to its biggest lead at 80­54, with about three and a half minutes left to play.

Whalen proved to be unstoppable by the Curry defense, as he delivered the top scoring performance of the night, with 21 points. He made eight out of the ten shots from the field. Pullen, Levesque, and Hyun added 16, 15, and 14 points, respectively. The best defensive performance came from Hyun, who made four steals.

Surviving a scare from Clark

On last Tuesday, the team played its first home game of 1995, where it defeated Clark University to win, 75­72, in front of filled stands at Rockwell Cage. Late in the game, the opponent had many chances to close the gap up until the final buzzer, but the Engineers successfully held on to its tenuous lead.

The Cougars held the lead for much of the early part of the game, with their largest lead at 18­13, with a little more than eight minutes remaining in the first half. MIT countered with a 12­0 run to take a 25­18 lead a little more than three minutes later.

The Engineers led 39­31 at halftime, and despite the Cougars coming very close at times, they would not lose the lead for the rest of the game. Clark had many chances to close the gap, but experienced problems with shooting and turnovers.

Clark presented a challenge throughout the second half and came as a close as one point from tying. The Engineers saw a 45­38 advantage with 13:39 remaining, dwindle to 73­72 with 35 seconds to go. With 16 seconds remaining, Caruthers missed on a free throw, but Whalen grabbed the rebound and scored to put the team further ahead.

With one second left in regulation and MIT leading, 75­72, Clark forward Sean Fitzgerald was fouled by Mel Pullen '98 while attempting a three­point field goal. Fitzgerald needed to make all three free throws to keep Clark's hopes of winning alive, but missed all of them.

Whalen led the team in scoring with 34 points, which more than doubled Clark's best single effort. He also led in rebounding, with 12 boards, slightly ahead of Levesque, who had 11. Caruthers and Levesque also scored in double figures, with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

The team now takes a five­game road trip, beginning this afternoon against Western New England College. The next home game will on Tuesday, Jan. 31 against New England College.

Christopher Chiu contributed to the reporting of this story.