On Wednesday, MIT’s men’s basketball team faced a challenge from Babson College in its last home game of the season.
The Babson Beavers walked onto the court hot; shooting well and playing a full-court defense against the Engineers. The intensity of Babson’s defense in the first half led to a low shooting percentage of 40.9 percent and seven turnovers for MIT, and three steals and 18 rebounds for Babson. Babson’s quickness challenged the MIT defense; the Beavers played a strong mid-range game — driving toward the basket, faking, and fading away, with great “ups” (hanging in the air for a long time) adding to the precision of their shots. MIT, on the other hand, failed to shoot accurately under the pressure of Babson’s defense. Babson had MIT locked; the Beavers had frustrated the Engineers with a bit of luck on the offensive end and an intense defense characteristic of an underdog team looking to win.
With 50 seconds left in the first half, Babson utilized its midrange game to gain a 10-point lead of 32-22. The Engineers’ situation looked rough — not impossible but certainly improbable, until Senior Noel Hollingsworth, MIT’s big man who is known for working the low post in his favor, showed off his versatility with a three-point shot. The shot wasn’t pretty; it hit the backboard hard and slammed itself into the basket, but it was a goal and it was just what the Engineers needed.
“NOELLLLLLLLLLLL”, exclaimed the rejuvenated audience, as the MIT players on the bench stood up and applauded their teammate’s successful, unusual basket. MIT could enter the locker room knowing there was hope; the fans were reassured that MIT’s No. 5 spot was not some fluke.
MIT walked back on the court still disoriented. Babson started the half with an 8-2 run, leading 40-27 with 16:03 left. After a layup from point guard Mitchell H. Kates ’13, Freshman Andrew M. Acker took a tough layup to excite not only the MIT players on the court but the entire bench and the audience. The back-to-back layup rejuvenated a falling MIT team, and Babson started to look exasperated. Then, Daniel K. McCue ’12 swished a three — MIT’s bench seemed to be hiding the firepower all along. The Engineers gathered momentum; they took charge with an 11-0 run that brought them in striking distance, down 38-40. Babson couldn’t muster a rebuttal and the Engineers coasted the rest of the game — it looked as if they were running a basketball clinic. Back to back threes from Jamie Karraker ’12, the team’s three-point machine, and McCue brought MIT ahead for the first time, 46-43, feeling secure with 4:20 left. The rest of the game was easy. Babson managed to make 4 points for the 13 MIT delivered. MIT had reciprocated Babson’s first half defensive effort, effectively shutting down the Beavers.
The team was led by William Tashman ’13 who managed nine points and 10 rebounds, as well as Kates who had 13 points and five assists. An excellent sixth man effort was put in place by McCue, who scored 7 points at key moments in the game.
After seeing such a performance from MIT, winning 59-47, this likely isn’t the team’s last home game since there is the chance for more during the post-season. MIT has one away game left in the regular season against Clark. Their season finale is against WPI, the only team that has managed to defeat the 21-1 team.