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Bartolotta Leads Balanced Offense in 65-53 Basketball Win Over Wheaton College

By James Kramer

James M. Bartolotta ’09 scored a game-high 21 points to lead four MIT (8-7, 2-2) players in double figures in Saturday’s 65-53 win over Wheaton College (7-3, 1-3) Saturday afternoon in Rockwell Cage.

Sparked by a career-high scoring effort from Brandon H. Suarez ’09, MIT shot over 63 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes to surge past their NEWMAC rivals and secure the win.

Suarez closed Saturday’s game with 16 points, including a four-of-five effort from three-point range. He broke a previous personal best set two days earlier with seven points in a road win against Coast Guard.

While Suarez made the difference for the Engineers against the Lyons, Bartolotta once again showcased his leadership, adding a career and game-high nine assists and grabbing five rebounds. Despite an otherwise big performance, Bartolotta was held without a block or steal for the first time all year.

Senior Brian Zukowski led Wheaton with 16 points, while rookie Jaxon Leo added nine and Brent DiGiovanna chipped in eight. The Lyons had eight players touch-up the scoresheet, while 13 different players rotated into the game. Wheaton shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, but was unable to find its touch in the second, shooting 8-of-29 (28 percent) in the second.

Leading 30-28 entering the second half, the Engineers finished on three straight lay-ups to extend the advantage to six in the early minutes of the new period. A three by Leo at 15:44 reduced MIT’s lead to one, while Zukowski scored a lay-up at 14:12 to give the Lyons their first lead since the final minute of the first frame.

Leo connected on another triple just over a minute later before a three by Kristopher Pedra gave the Lyons their second consecutive long-range connect and final lead of the game at 43-41. After Pedra’s three, the Engineers responded with a 14-0 run including two three’s by Suarez and back-to-back lay-ups by Bartolotta and Erich W. Bracht ’10.

Behind 55-43, Wheaton stopped the run with a DiGiovanni lay-up at the 6:46 mark. Wheaton would get as close as eight after Zukowski drained a three with 56 seconds left in regulation, but Bartolotta connected on four straight free throws to end the game.

Bracht delivered his seventh double-double of the season and first in the NEWMAC after closing with 13 points and a game-best 11 rebounds. Alexander G. Krull ’07 shrugged off a difficult first half to finish with 11 points, while MIT edged Wheaton on the boards, 31-29.