Springfield, Mass. - February 20, 2010 - Pat Crean netted a team-best 19 points in his final regular season home game, however the 11th-ranked MIT Engineers made several key free throws down the stretch to down the Springfield College men's basketball team, 66-62, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) contest on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena. The Engineers thus clinched the NEWMAC regular-season title, with the Pride claiming second all alone.
The win upped MIT's record to 22-3 overall, and 10-2 in the NEWMAC. The Pride fell to 13-12 overall, and 8-4 in the NEWMAC. MIT thus earns the No. 1 seed and a bye for next week's NEWMAC post-season tournament. Springfield, as the No. 2 seed, will play a quarterfinal game Wednesday night at home in Blake Arena against No. 7-seeded Babson. MIT knows that it will host the NEWMAC Tourney semifinals and final next Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 27-28).
MIT was led this afternoon by senior forward Billy Johnson (Everett, Wash.) with a game-high 20 points. Two others tallied 15 points apiece -- sophomore forward Noel Hollingsworth (Salt Lake City, Utah) and freshman guard Jimmy Burke (Scotch Plains, N.J.). Hollingsworth, the NEWMAC's leading scorer, also added a game-high 15 rebounds. Freshman guard Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) was next for the Engineers with seven points, adding six assists, and three steals.
For the Pride, Crean, a 6-4 forward from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and SC's only senior who was honored before the game in ceremonies, scored a team-high 19 points and added five rebounds. Three others scored in double figures for SC. They were junior guard Darvis Rankins (Boston, Mass.) with 14 (including shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range), junior guard Billy Harkins (Bellmore, N.Y.) with 12 points, plus eight rebounds and a game-high seven assists, and sophomore center Ryan Coburn (West Warwick, R.I.) with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
MIT got off to a good start, leading 8-2 after Hollingsworth nailed a 3-pointer with 16:56 left in the first half. With 6:43 left, the Engineers still led by five (19-14) when Hollingsworth hit a jumper.
But a lay-up and 3-pointer by Rankins, the latter with 6:30 left, tied the game at 19-all. The game was tied up again at 25-all when Crean hit a short jumper with 2:37 left. But MIT's Burke gave the Engineers a three-point lead with 2:13 to go. A free throw by Crean with 1:56 left was the last point of the half, and MIT led 28-26. Crean had 11 of his 19 points at the intermission.
Springfield enjoyed its best spurt of the game right at the start of the second half. running off eight straight points to take a 34-28 lead, its largest of the game, with 18:23 left. In fact, MIT missed its next field goal attempt, and SC had the ball with numbers on a fast break. But Burke made an important steal, and then canned a 3-pointer to allow MIT right back into the game at 34-31 with 17:49 left.
SC led 39-35 when Harkins made a 3-pointer with 16:13 left, but that is when the SC drought began. Springfield did not score another field goal until Rankins hit a 3-pointer with 4:18 left, making it 51-48 in favor of MIT. Neither team was lighting it up through that entire stretch, but MIT's 16-6 run was good enough to put the Engineers in control.
MIT eventually led by as many as 10 at 61-51 on a free throw by Burke with just 45 seconds left. But SC made some three's in the final 40 seconds or so to keep it interesting. When Rankins made a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, the Pride had actually cut it to three points at 65-62. One free thow by Johnson then sealed it with 10 seconds to go. Kates then made a steal with six seconds left to close it out.
Johnson scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half. He was 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final moments, doing his best to keep Springfield at bay.
Neither team shot well -- MIT (.339), SC (.367). MIT attempted 35 3-pointers, making 10 (.286). The Pride outrebounded the Engineers, 45-41. MIT had just 12 turnovers, forcing SC into 16.