Game of the Week: Men’s Basketball Beats Camels In Overtime

James M. “Jimmy” Bartolotta ’09 scored 26 of his game-high 29 points in the final 25 minutes of last Thursday’s men’s basketball game against Connecticut College (7-2) as MIT erased a 16-point halftime deficit en route to a 79-73 overtime victory. Hamidou Soumare ’08 added a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in the thrilling non-conference win, which took place in Rockwell Cage.

Sophomore Shavar Bernier connected on a three on the first play in overtime to push Connecticut College in front, 65-62, but Willard J. “Billy” Johnson ’09 answered with a trey of his own to negate the Camels’ momentum. MIT (7-4) scored the next six points from the free-throw line and kept the visitors at bay the rest of the way.

The Engineers put themselves in position to win after orchestrating a dominating second half paced by Bartolotta’s determination and great offensive play in the post by Soumare. Trailing 35-19 at the break, MIT outscored Connecticut College 43-27 in the second half and 17-11 in the overtime period.

“We made great adjustments after a really disappointing first half,” said Associate Head Coach Oliver W. Eslinger. “It was encouraging to see our guys bounce back and finish the game hard.”

Soumare scored eight of the first 11 points in the second half to reduce the Camels’ commanding lead to single digits, while a three by Will D. Mroz ’08 narrowed the advantage to 41-34 with 12:29 left in regulation. Jeff Young drilled back-to-back threes to once again extend the lead, but Bartolotta answered with six straight points to bring the deficit back to seven.

Another shot beyond the arc by Bartolotta sliced the Camels’ lead to one (51-50) with five minutes left in the half, although Connecticut College refused to surrender the advantage. With 2:40 showing on the clock, the Engineers finally grabbed their first lead of the night after Bartolotta sank a pair of free throws. Trailing 58-57 with 2:17 to go, Young drained another three as the Camels reclaimed the lead.

The Engineers trailed 62-58 with one minute left in the game, but Bartolotta cut the lead in half with a jumper on the left side. On the Camels’ ensuing possession, Bartolotta jumped the passing lane and picked off a pass before sinking two more free throws to send the game to overtime.

Bartolotta had only three points in the first half, but finished the heroic effort with another solid stat line as he collected 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting, adding five assists and five steals. The junior wing tied Adam J. Gibbons ’05 for 13th all-time on the MIT scoring list with 1,212 points.

MIT’s thunderous one-two punch negated a well-balanced effort by Connecticut College, as all five starters finished in double figures. Young led the way with 16 points and eight boards, while Billy Karis closed with 15. Bernier (13), Christian Mosley (12) and Charles Stone (10) rounded out the Camels’ double-digit scorers.

Why this was Game of the Week:

Trailing by 16 points at the break, the men’s basketball team played an inspired second half. Bartolotta and Soumare led a focused offense that used superior free-throw shooting to tie the game in regulation and win it in overtime.