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Soumare...s Five Blocks Send Men...s Hoops to Semi...s

By Albert Ni

Hamidou Soumare ’08 showed that defense still matters in MIT’s 49-40 victory over Babson College (9-17) in the first round of the NEWMAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. In a game where offense on both sides looked listless at times, Soumare put the nails in Babson’s shooting coffin with a remarkable five blocks in the last six minutes of the game.

Neither team managed to get going offensively at any point in the game. A combination of good defense, turnovers, and missed opportunities from both sides kept the score low.

After the first ten minutes of the game, the score was tied at 10, and neither team had scored for several minutes. As both sides continued to miss almost all of their rare open looks, Tech (19-7) clung to a 22-20 lead at halftime.

When the second half rolled around, both teams decided to step it up … defensively. With the officials permitting plenty of contact at the perimeter, Tech struggled to get good looks against a team they had already beaten handily twice this year.

Babson’s game plan to stop Tech from scoring seemed to be working as they snuck ahead 27-26 a few minutes into the second half.

Perhaps the most fitting description of the game to this point would be “struggle,” and what was possibly the largest home crowd of the year for the Engineers seemed unable to get into the game vocally. By the 6:30 mark, Tech had barely pulled ahead again 35-31. It was then that the Hamidou Soumare show hit the air, literally.

After missing the last seven games, Soumare seemed to be everywhere, rejecting shot after shot. In the process, he gave the Engineers a jolt of much needed energy, and they pulled ahead 41-33 with three minutes left in the game.

Babson never quite recovered from the shock of Soumare’s performance. Only end game free throws and a few baskets after the outcome was sealed brought the score up to 49-40. Babson would end up shooting 22.6 percent in the second half, while Tech did only slightly better at 30.4 percent.

Michael W. D’Auria ’06 led the way for MIT with 15 points. D’Auria and Daniel F. Kanamori ’06 added 4 steals apiece. However, it was undoubtedly Soumare who made the biggest plays down the stretch. He grabbed 9 boards to go with his 5 blocks in the second half. Soumare, who scored just a single point, showed that it doesn’t always take offensive flair to put on a crowd-pleasing display while turning the tides of a game.

With the win, the No. 2 seed Engineers advance to the NEWMAC semi-finals to face No. 3 Coast Guard, to whom they lost both games this season. Even though Babson played well defensively, Tech will most likely need to find a way to put together a better offensive display to have a chance at the title. Then again, Soumare might just block 10 more shots next game.