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Men’s basketball fought valiantly but faded down the stretch under unrelenting pressure from the Clark University Cougars, falling by a final score of 81-73.

Clark (11-13, 5-7) exhibited exceptional ball-movement and a balanced offense, with five players scoring in double figures and 39 points coming from the bench. Head Coach Paul Phillips continually cycled players in and out, keeping the Cougars fresh by giving twelve players at least six minutes.

By contrast, only four Engineers scored, and MIT’s (13-12, 5-7) starters sat on the bench for a combined total of five minutes.

The bulk of the Engineers’ offense was provided by James M. Bartolotta ’09 and Erich W. Bracht ’10, who accounted for 54 of the team’s 73 total points. On top of that, Clarke’s deep bench outscored the Engineer’s back-ups 39-0.

Bartolotta was the catalyst for Tech, as his all-around game stuffed the stat sheet with 32 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 steals. Bracht added a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The lead changed 13 times in the see-saw second half, and the contest would not be decided until the final minutes. After a short Brecht jumper gave MIT its largest lead of the second half at 69-64 with just under five minutes remaining, the Cougars took control with an 11-0 run that included three straight field-goals from behind the arc.

For the game, Clark continually had success from long range, making 12 of 23 three-point attempts. MIT, on the other hand, was cold from outside and missed all seven attempts. The opposite was true at the free-throw line, where MIT converted on 25 of 27 attempts and Clark hit only 11 of 20.

Early on in the game MIT appeared to be the better team. The Engineers jumped out to a 6-0 lead and would not trail for the remainder of the first half. But despite falling behind early, Clark was able to hang around. MIT’s largest lead of the game was only seven points, at 29-22 with 3:35 left in the first half. Cougars reserve small forward Slader Lyell hit two late threes to close that gap, and only three points separated the teams at the break.

Clark came out flying in the second half, taking advantage of its depth and applying pressure all over the court. Rookie point guard Patrick S. Sissman ’10 was given the brutal task of breaking the Cougar onslaught of pressure in the full court press fueled by Clarke’s fresh and deep bench.

MIT struggled to take care of the ball, failing on numerous occasions to advance the ball past half-court on offense. For the game, the Engineers committed 25 turnovers, leading to 30 Clark points.

The Engineers struggled particularly in the second half with perimeter defense, allowing the Cougars to go 7-14 from downtown led by Byron Roberts’ off-the-bench effort. Roberts went 4-4 from behind the arc.

The Engineers failed to manage their time outs effectively in the second half, forsaking four opportunities to get some badly needed rest. The Engineers, clearly fatigued by the end of the second half, failed to score a field goal after the 4:44 mark, though they managed to hit a few free throws. Clark’s victory salvaged a split of the season series between the two closely matched teams, and a post-game coin flip determined their seeding for the conference tournament. The Cougars came out on top again in the coin flip, dropping the Engineers to fifth in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. As a result, MIT must go on the road next week for the opening round of the conference tournament.