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Engineers Fall Short in Third Overtime Against Tufts

By James Kramer
DIRECTOR OF SPORTS INFORMATION

Tufts guard Ryan O’Keefe connected on a three-pointer from the corner with three minutes left in Saturday’s third overtime to snap the game’s 11th tie, and the Jumbos followed up by scoring their last seven points from the free-throw line as the Engineers fell 88-82 to their cross-town rival in the longest game in the 106-year history of MIT basketball.

Tufts (4-2) opened the weekend tilt by jumping out to an early five-point lead, but MIT (4-3) responded with a small run of its own to pull in front, 16-13, midway through the first period.

The teams traded baskets the rest of the half before settling for a 28-28 tie at the break. Will D. Mroz ’08 put back an offensive rebound as time expired to level the score.

The Engineers looked to break the game open in the second half, controlling the play for the first 10 minutes en route to a nine-point lead (50-41). After a small Tufts comeback, Alexander G. Krull ’07 gave MIT its largest lead of the afternoon at 57-47 with just over eight minutes left in regulation.

Tufts answered the MIT attack by orchestrating a 14-4 run over the next six minutes that tied the game at 61 with less than three minutes to go. Jake Weitzen sparked the run with 10 points during the stretch, including the game-tying jumper from beyond the arc. Neither team was able to score in the final minute, setting up the first overtime.

The Engineers appeared headed for defeat after another quick run lifted Tufts in front, 70-65, with 1:30 on the board. MIT collected two free throws from Krull before forcing a turnover with 27 ticks to go. Needing a three to force extra time, Bradley H. Gampel ’09 supplied the MIT offense exactly what it needed.

Three minutes into the second overtime, a lay-up by Gampel gave MIT a 74-71 lead, but a steal and fast-break lay-up by Jon Pierce slashed the advantage to one.

Another turnover on the ensuing play set up an O’Keefe triple that pushed Tufts ahead by two. Krull kept the Engineers in contention by calmly knocking down two free throws to knot the score at 76 with less than 35 seconds left on the game clock. O’Keefe fired another deep ball for Tufts at the end of the frame, but it just missed, setting up a third overtime controlled by O’Keefe and the Tufts’ free-throw shooting.

Weitzen and O’Keefe each scored 21 points to lead the Tufts offense. O’Keefe hit five from deep to key the perimeter while Weitzen added 10 boards in a double-double effort for the Jumbos.

Only five players scored for MIT, but the Cardinal and Gray showcased great balance as all five scored in double figures. James M. Bartolotta ’09 and Krull both scored 21 to pave the way with Mroz and Gampel, adding 12 and 11, respectively. Rookie Erich W. Bracht ’10 enjoyed another tremendous game statistically, finishing with 16 points and a game-high 17 boards. Bartolotta quietly secured his third double-double of the season after corralling 10 rebounds, six assists, and five steals. He also lead another superb team effort at the free-throw line, contributing a perfect 10-of-10 to the team’s 22-of-23 mark.