The MIT Men’s Basketball team competed in the NEWMAC tournament held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute over the weekend. The Engineers, seeded second in the field of four teams, defeated Springfield College in the semifinals on Saturday, 77-68, before upsetting hosts and top-seeded WPI on Sunday, 63-52.
Against Springfield on Saturday, the Engineers were in control the entire game. After the score was tied at five 3:15 into the game, MIT scored ten unanswered points to take the lead, which they would hold for the rest of the game. With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Springfield pulled within five, 31-26, but Mitchell H. Kates ’13 was the only player to make a field goal for either team the rest of the half, hitting two three-pointers and a layup off a steal, to give MIT an 11-point lead at the half.
The Engineers continued their momentum coming out of the break, scoring the first six points in the half. They stretched their lead to as many as 20, and cruised to a 77-68 win to earn a spot in the tournament final.
Kates scored 18 of his game-leading 22 points in the first half, and Tournament Most Outstanding Player William Tashman ’13 added 17 points and 14 rebounds in the game.
The WPI team facing the Engineers in the final on Sunday was more evenly matched. Neither team could gain more than a three-point advantage for the first part of the half, but MIT went on to a 17-4 run to take a ten-point lead, 24-14, with just over five minutes remaining. WPI responded with 12 unanswered points of their own, and the score at halftime was 28-26 in favor of WPI.
Coming out of the break, the Engineers once again opened with six straight points. This run gave them the lead for good, as MIT made 72.7 percent of its shots from the floor in the second half. The Engineers stretched their lead to 12 with 8:30 left, and although WPI pulled within six points with 5:11 remaining, MIT scored the next nine points to secure the victory.
Tashman contributed 17 more points and 10 more rebounds in the final, and William E. Bender ’12 scored 13 points off the bench for MIT.
With the win, the Engineers earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championships. This will be MIT’s third straight national tournament appearance, and they will look to improve on last year’s result, a first-round loss to DeSales University.