Cambridge, Mass. - February 26, 2012 - Alex Berthiuame netted a game-high 25 points, however the Springfield College men's basketball team could not complete its second-half comeback as it fell to top-seeded and third-ranked MIT, 65-60, in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship game at Rockwell Cage on Sunday afternoon.
This marks the second time in the last four years that Springfield has lost in NEWMAC championship game to MIT as Springfield's record drops to 17-10.
MIT will head back to the NCAA Division III tournament for the fourth consecutive season and improved to 25-1 with the victory.
Junior Mitchell Kates poured in 24 points en route to tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as he shot 10-for-16 from the field while adding six assists in 39 minutes of play. Senior Noel Hollingsworth had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards and senior Billy Bender stuffed the stat sheet with four points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Berthiaume added five assists to go along with his game-high 25 points. Pat Rossi was also in double figures with 10 and Ryan Coburn and Jordan Rote added eight points apiece.
The score was tied at 55 with 3:13 to go before Kates and Berthiaume exchanged buckets to keep things knotted at 57. After a missed three-pointer from Hollingsworth, junior Will Tashman picked up his fifth foul, sending Evan Christner to the line for a pair. Christner was only able to convert one-of-two to put give the Pride a 58-57 lead with 1:45 to play.
Kates made a contested, reverse layup to put the Cardinal and Gray back on top and Rote would turn the ball over at the other end. Hollingsworth then knocked down a tough jump-hook on the ensuing MIT possession to extend the lead to three, 61-58, with just 39 seconds to go. The Engineers would pick up a key defensive stop on Springfield’s next trip down the court and iced the game by going four-for-four from the foul line in the final 20 seconds.
Tech led by as many as 14 early in the second half, after consecutive buckets by Tashman and Kates to force a Springfield timeout less than a minute into the period. The Pride would battle back thanks to a 12-3 run midway through the frame. Rossi’s jumper with 5:01 to play gave Springfield its first lead since the 4:23 mark of the first, and the teams would trade baskets over the next few possessions, setting up the dramatic finish.
The visitors led by as many as seven in the first half, before the top-seeded Engineers came storming back, closing out the opening stanza on a 17-4 run that was started by back-to-back steals by Bender, to take a 37-27 advantage into the locker room.