BABSON PARK, Mass. – Junior Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, N.J.) turned in a stellar all-around performance with 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists to lead nationally-ranked MIT to a hard-fought 72-63 win over host Babson College in a matchup of New England Women's and Men's Athletics Conference (NEWMAC) rivals on Saturday afternoon.
MIT put four players in double-figures as senior Noel Hollingsworth (Salt Lake City, Utah) and junior Will Tashman (Atherton, Calif.) scored 16 points apiece, while senior Billy Bender (The Woodlands, Texas) chipped in with 11 points. Babson was led by sophomore Matt Palazini's (Franklin, Mass.) 17 points, while junior Marcus McDermott (Milton, Mass.) tallied 15 points and added four rebounds and three assists.
With the win, the Engineers, ranked third in the country in the most recent D3hoops.com poll, remained unbeaten at 16-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference, while the Beavers fell to 8-8 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Engineers surged to a 16-8 advantage in the opening eight and a half minutes by showcasing their offensive balance. Tashman scored five points, Hollingsworth and Bender added four points apiece, and senior Jamie Karraker (Morgantown, W.Va.) made the first of his three three-pointers to build their biggest lead of the half. The Beavers bounced back quickly though, going on a 13-4 spurt, to take their first lead of the game at 21-20 with 7:09 remaining in the half. Back-to-back three pointers by Palazini and first-year John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) got the run started before another Palazini triple and layups by first-year David Mack (Holden, Mass.) and McDermott gave Babson the advantage.
The final seven minutes of the first half would see five ties and five lead changes before Kates put MIT in front to stay by scoring their final seven points of the stanza. During the spurt he made a layup, knocked down a pull up jump shot and hit a three-pointer to close the half, giving the Engineers a 37-32 lead at the break.
Despite both teams struggling to find their rhythm offensively to start the second half, MIT pushed their lead to nine over the first six minutes of the period at 44-35. Back-to-back three-pointers by Palazini and McDermott pulled Babson within 44-41 at the 13:21 mark. Unfortunately for the Beavers, it would be as close as they would get.
The Beavers would hold MIT to only two made field goals over the first 11:47 of the second half, two Karraker three-pointers, but the Engineers continued to maintain their lead by scoring from the free throw line. MIT knocked down 19 of their 24 second half free throw attempts, including a perfect 8-8 effort from Hollingsworth, to offset a 7-20 performance from the field.
Two Palazini free throws with 4:11 remaining cut the MIT lead to 61-55, but two possessions later Kates turned a Beaver turnover into a transition layup the other way to help seal MIT's 16th consecutive victory, breaking the previous school record from the 1962-63 season.
For the game MIT shot 46% from the field and knocked down 25-31 free throws, while holding a 33-27 rebounding advantage over the Beavers. Babson made 8-19 three-point attempts, but struggled from the field overall, shooting just 39% for the afternoon.
MIT is off until next Saturday when they host WPI in a 3:00pm tip off. Babson returns to action this Wednesday night when they host the Coast Guard Academy at 7:00pm.