CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 22 MIT claimed at least a share of the regular-season New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference title with a 69-60 upset of No. 5 WPI.
Sophomore Justin Pedley came off the bench to hit 6 of 8 3-point attempts and led the Engineers with a career-high 20 points. Sophomore Marco Coppola led all scorers with 22 points for WPI.
Defense was a big aspect of the game early on as both teams combined to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. WPI (21-2, 9-2 NEWMAC) had an early 6-2 advantage after a jumper by junior Ryan Kolb at the 16:22 mark. Two minutes later, a 3-pointer by senior Mitchell Kates gave MIT its first lead of the night at 7-6. Three-point shooting proved to be a crucial factor as MIT hit on 9 of 17 attempts, while WPI struggled with its long-range shooting, hitting just 3 of 21 attempts.
MIT twice pushed its advantage to six points, holding a 16-10 lead after a Kates layup at the 6:04 mark. WPI came back with six consecutive points to tie things up on a layup by Coppola. MIT responded with a 8-2 run to end the half, getting 3-pointers from Pedley and senior James Burke to take a 27-21 lead at the half.
During the first five minutes of the second half, MIT slowly built a 10-point advantage, going up 40-30 following a Pedley 3-pointer. MIT still led by 10 with 14:08 left when WPI saw Kolb go on a personal 5-0 run that made it 43-38 with 12:46 to go. MIT pushed its lead back to 10, again on a Pedley 3-pointer, midway through the final 20 minutes. WPI made little headway at that point and MIT moved out to its biggest lead of the game at 60-46 on a bucket by Kates with six minutes left.
With a pair of starters on the bench with four fouls, MIT saw WPI slowly inch its way back into the game during the next five minutes. Coppola and Kolb led the charge with six points apiece, guiding the Engineers on a 14-5 run. Coppola finished the run with a layup that brought WPI back to within five at 65-60 with a minute left.
Pressing, WPI picked up a steal by Kolb on the next MIT possession, but a 3-pointer by freshman Zach Karalis was off the mark. WPI missed its final two shot attempts as well, and a pair of free throws by Pedley and Kates iced the win for MIT.
Kates finished with 16 points and nine assists as MIT extended its season-best win streak to seven games. Senior Will Tashman contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds for MIT, which shot 53.5 percent for the game. Kolb led WPI in rebounding with eight.