Worcester, Mass. - February 26, 2011 - The Springfield College men's basketball team dropped a 77-68 decision to MIT on Saturday afternoon at WPI's Harrington Auditorium in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal.
MIT’s Mitchell Kates paced all players with 22 points to lift the second-seeded Engineers to the championship game, where they will take on top-seeded WPI, a 62-51 winner over Coast Guard in the other semifinal.
It will mark the second NEWMAC championship game appearance in the last three years for the Cardinal and Gray (18-8), which captured the 2009 title. Springfield sees its season come to end with a record of 15-11.
Kates was the story in the first half as he poured in 18 points during the opening 20 minutes of play. The sophomore tallied five points in the final 48 seconds of the opening stanza to help the Engineers turn a six-point advantage into an 11-point bulge at the break at 39-28.
MIT continued its strong play in the second half, rattling off the first six points. Will Tashman netted 13 of his 17 points after the half, en route to posting his 10th double-double of the season. The sophomore finished with a game-best 14 rebounds.
Billy Bender and Jamie Karraker added 13 and 12 points respectively for the Engineers, which also received seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and a block from Kates. As a team, MIT proved opportunistic, turning just 11 Springfield turnovers into 18 points. Darvis Rankins led a balanced Springfield attack with 16 points. Senior Matt Cavalieri chipped in with 15 points while Ryan Coburn and Jordan Rote each tossed in 10. Coburn also added three blocks.
The contest featured 55 fouls and a total of 65 free throws attempted. The battle of the boards was even with both teams grabbing 37 and Springfield holding a slight 28-25 advantage in points in the paint and a 17-14 edge in second chance points. MIT tallied 15 of the game’s 21 fast break points.
Springfield said its goodbyes to two seniors, Cavalieri and guard Billy Harkins, the team's co-captains. Cavalieri finished his outstanding career with 1,117 points, tying him for 23rd on the all-time SC point-scoring list with Dana Anderson '72. Cavalieri averaged team-bests 17.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in his final year of play. Harkins finished by averaging 9.6 points, and team-bests 5.0 assists and 2.9 steals per game as a senior.