Babson Park, MA --- MIT sophomore Samuel Bockman (Oceanside, CA) blocked a layup as time expired to give the second-seeded Engineers a thrilling 63-61 victory over third-seeded WPI in a NEWMAC Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal contest played Saturday evening at Babson.
With the victory, MIT (20-6) moves to Sunday's 3pm title game against the top-ranked Beavers. WPI sees its season come to an end with a 17-9 mark and sees it amazing streak of 20 or more victories in a season end at 13.
MIT's Engineers went ahead 62-59 when sophomore Bradley Jomard (Paris, France) canned a pair of free throws with 1:42 remaining before WPI junior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) responded with a jumper 22 seconds later to make it 62-61. Both teams misfired on their ensuing possession and WPI was forced to foul with 10.0 seconds remaining. Sophomore Dakota Pierce (Thousand Oaks, CA) canned 1-of-2 from the free throw line and WPI brought the ball into the frontcourt and called timeout with 1.1 seconds left in front of its bench. It had looked like the Crimson and Gray had drawn up the perfect play as freshman Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) fed the inbounds pass to Rogers with what appeared to be a perfectly placed lob going towards the basket but Bockman switched on the play and came from out of nowhere to block the layup attempt and send MIT to the finals.
The first half featured eight ties and five lead changes with the entire 20 minutes played with a 10-point window of a six point WPI lead and a three point MIT advantage. Sophomore AJ Jurko's (Weston, FL) jumper with 47 seconds to go before halftime sent the team into the locker room even at 34-34. Senior Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) led all players with 13 points and five rebounds for WPI while Jomard, senior Tim Butala (Monroe, CT) and Jurko combined for 30 of MIT's 34 points.
After a back-and-forth start to the second half, MIT took the lead for good at 53-51 on a Pierce jumper with 9:22 left to play. Both teams clamped down defensively, and while WPI never led again, MIT was only able to extend its bulge to as high as five before the frantic ending.
Converse finished his final game with 23 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes while fellow senior Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) never left the floor until the game was over. Sophomore Jamani Spencer (Closter, NJ) came off the bench to add 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals while Rodgers totaled a dozen points and five rebounds on the night. Junior Aaron Todd (York, ME) was second on the leaderboard with six caroms.
Jurko paced MIT with 18 points followed by Jomard with 16 and Butala with 13. Jomard also collected eight rebounds.