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The undefeated MIT Engineers have started out the New Year hot, with two conference wins, improving their record to 14-0 (2-0 in conference).

MIT’s conference opener against Springfield was a real test for the Engineers, as Springfield is one of the strongest teams in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). The game started with a Springfield lead of 8-2, with nearly 14 minutes left in the first half, due to Springfield’s superior shooting efforts.

MIT rallied back for most of the first half, an effort led by several members of the team’s bench. With a rare 3-point jump shot from MIT’s center, Noel Hollingsworth ’12, the Engineers were able to establish a short-lived lead of 22-21 with 6:54 left in the first half.

After a few changes in players, MIT pulled ahead, maintaining the edge well into the second half, until 11:45, when a Springfield layup turned the tables for a 47-46 Springfield lead. The game stayed tight until the end; MIT was up 56-55 at 3:38, when the Engineers started to pull away. With two Springfield turnovers and solid free throw shooting by MIT, the Engineers secured their 13th win of the season, 67-59.

Statistically, the two teams were pretty even. Both teams made the 23 goals from the field, but the Engineers made seven 3-point shots, versus only five from Springfield. The Engineers went 14 for 18 in free throws, versus Springfield’s 8 of 12.

MIT’s second win, against Wheaton, was less close. Shooting 11 of 23 from the 3-point range — a high 47.8 percent — the Engineers’ dominant outside game crushed Wheaton’s defense. The Engineers were hot from all areas of the court, shooting 54.4 percent from the field as a team.

MIT annihilated Wheaton on both the offensive and defensive ends. The tough MIT defense kept Wheaton from playing well in the paint, resulting in a 38.5 percent field goal percentage coupled with 20 turnovers for Wheaton.

James D. Karraker ’12 led the Engineers to victory, grabbing five rebounds and shooting 8 of 14 beyond the arc to score 24 points. Mitchell H. Kates ’13 also had a stellar performance, managing 15 points, three assists, three rebounds, and two steals. Off of the bench, freshman Dennis R. Levene proved to be a dominant force and showed promise for the future of the team. In a mere 10 minutes he garnered eight points, five rebounds, and an assist.

The Engineers will play their first away game of the year today against Coast Guard Academy at 7 p.m. Their next home game will be against WPI on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m.