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Bartollota Free Throws Clinch Engineers... Third Win of Season

By James D. Kramer

James M. Bartolotta ’09 connected on two high-pressure free-throws in the waning seconds to lift MIT (3-2) from one-behind to defeat host Lesley College 80-79 Tuesday night. Bradley H. Gampel ’09 stole the ball on the ensuing play as time expired to seal Tech’s second straight win.

MIT comfortably led most of the first half, ahead by as many as 13 with three minutes to go. Despite trailing most of the frame, the Lynx (2-2) never lost their composure and repeatedly climbed within six or seven before the Engineers pushed the advantage back to double figures.

Erich W. Bracht ’10 continued his incredible play Tuesday, leading the Engineers with 17 points and 12 boards in the first half to help Tech enter the break with a 47-41 edge.

The Cardinal and Gray maintained a steady command in the first five minutes of the second half, building a 55-45 lead.

Lesley answered with a seven point run behind the strong play of Joseph Chatman and Mark Stevens that closed the gap to three.

MIT’s Patrick S. Sissman ’10 converted a three-point play to end the run, and the Engineers lead swelled back to 10 midway through the period.

Lesley made a push for the win with just over a minute left in regulation. Trailing 77-71, James Parker hit a free throw after which the ball was stolen on the in-bounds pass and Francis Cusick drained a three. The flurry brought Lesley within two and set the stage for a free-throw battle down the stretch.

Chatman made four consecutive free throws, including a pair with less than 10 seconds on the clock to give the Lynx a 79-78 lead, their first since the opening minutes of the game.

On MIT’s final possession, Bartolotta drew a whistle on a strong move to the basket that enabled the second-year standout to once again showcase his final-second heroics. He calmly sank the two free throws, putting his team ahead by one.

Bartolotta, who entered Tuesday’s tilt as the leading scorer in the NEWMAC, finished with a team-high 26 points in addition to 10 boards and four assists. One of the key reasons for Bartolotta’s consistent offensive production has been his ability to get to the free-throw line, where he was 10-of-12 on Thursday.

Bartolotta’s strong effort was overshadowed a bit by Bracht’s prerformance, one of the best by an MIT rookie in recent memory. Bracht didn’t let up after a strong first half, finishing the game with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 22 boards, tying the highest single-game rebounding total since William Eagleson ’64 set the Institute record in 1963.

Although the Engineers received most of their offensive spark from Bartolotta and Bracht, they continued to display balance and great team chemistry. All nine players appearing against Lesley scored, while seven of the nine were credited with a steal or a rebound.

Chatman led Lesley with a game-high 32 points, while James Parker and Mark Stevens added 16 and 15, respectively.

Paced by its double-double duo (Bartolotta and Bracht), MIT finished the night with a 52-36 rebounding edge.