Last weekend, the MIT Men’s Basketball team’s best season in history came to an end with a 56-71 loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Final Four.
The Engineers had an unfortunate dry streak in the second half of the game after ending the first half with a tie, 26-26. A 14-0 run in less than five minutes for Whitewater took MIT from its slight lead of 32-30 to a huge deficit of 42-32. The Engineers’ range shooting was off-target most of the game, only hitting three of 20 from beyond the arc, an incredible low for an MIT team that prides itself in its high 3-point percentage. With an unlucky exterior game, MIT had trouble getting in the paint, as Whitewater had a defensive force in Chris Davis whose height, volume, and strength made it difficult for the Engineers to score down low. Davis also played well on the other end of the court, scoring a total of 30 points.
William Tashman ’13 was able to slip by Davis a few times, scoring three layups off offensive rebounds and playing consistently well throughout the game. MIT’s defense played well, on the other hand, enabling MIT to contain Whitewater to low scoring for most of the game. Whitewater’s end result of 71 points was still decent for the team, but they benefited from the last few minutes of the game because of a free-throw shooting contest.
MIT’s loss was mostly a result of a bad-shooting day — a sad way to end such a great season. They finished with a record that was only doubly tarnished, 29-2, the result of diligence and talent meeting for 5–7 p.m. practices in Rockwell Cage after a full day at MIT. The good news for the fans of the Cambridge, Mass. team is that many of the team’s major components will be back, including Tashman who ended his season with his 12th double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, Mitchell Kates ’13 who played a strong tournament and is credited for being the organizational and leading force of the team’s offense, Noel Hollingsworth ’12 who owns an “unblockable” hook shot, as verified by Davis in the Final Four game whose stellar defensive effort could not match Hollingsworth’s skilled move, James Karraker ’12 who holds the Institute’s career record for 3-pointers, along with a host of rising stars like Paul Dawson ’15 who received a standing ovation from the crowd for his performance during the Final Four game.
As coach Paul Grant said, “The word is getting out. It’s going to take a while, but anyone who has been in and around this program for the past five years knows that this is a program on a meteoric rise [that] shows no sign of waning.” MIT is on the radar and on the move; the team’s performance this year warranted its first entrance into the Final Four — looking ahead, it doesn’t look like it will be the team’s last visit to nationals.