Last Saturday, the MIT men’s basketball team (16-1;4-1) tarnished its record with its first loss of the season to WPI.
MIT started well, leading 29-21 with nearly eight minutes remaining in the first half. With over 60 percent field goal shooting, scoring five of five from beyond the arc, the Engineers were doing great. WPI struggled to keep up with MIT’s game, led primarily by excellent shooting and handling of the ball on the offensive end. MIT ended the first half ahead of WPI, 41-37.
The second half of the game was painful for MIT. WPI managed to play a strong, steady game, and MIT’s offensive effort was good but the team’s shooting percentage fell. In the first 10 minutes of the half, the Engineers only managed to score 10 points, which was low considering they were scoring at double that rate throughout the first half of the game. It was not in the cards for the Engineers, they missed all six three point attempts during the second half, causing their over 60 percent field goal percentage to drop below 50 percent. WPI slowly crept past the Engineers, resulting in an 80-68 loss for MIT.
MIT played as well as WPI throughout the game, statistically speaking. WPI, however, succeeded in the right parts of the game: field goals and free throws, offensive rebounding, and number of turnovers. WPI had nine more field goal attempts, 12 more free throws, and four more offensive rebounds than MIT had, all while committing only six turnovers, versus 15 from MIT. A higher all-around shooting percentage from MIT could not make up for the lack of shooting attempts, resulting from a strong ball handling performance on WPI’s part. WPI knew it was playing the third ranked team in the nation and played accordingly.
Interestingly enough, MIT was not the only Division III team to tarnish its previously perfect record with a loss on Saturday; of the four undefeated teams in the nation prior to Saturday, three had their first losses of the season with No. 1 Middlebury remaining the only undefeated team in DIII.
MIT will be playing Clark next, tin Rockwell Cage at 7:00 p.m. tonight.