Worcester, MA --- Tournament Most Outstanding Player Will Tashman (Atherton, CA) notched game-highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds and MIT shot a sizzling 72.7% from the floor in the second half to upset top seed and host WPI 63-52 in the championship game of the 2011 NEWMAC Men's Basketball Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, MIT (19-8) captures its second NEWMAC crown in the last three years and assures itself a bid to a third consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament. WPI, which was playing in its sixth final in the last seven years, entered the week ranked third in New England in the latest regional rankings and should receive strong consideration for an at-large bid. Tournament selections will be announced on Monday at 1pm.
Trailing 28-26 at half, the visitors rattled off the first six points of the second stanza and would not relinquish the lead the rest way. The advantage swelled to 12 following a conventional 3-point play by Eric Zuk (Carlisle, MA) with 8:28, capping a 13-2 run. WPI battled back with six straight points, including four from Jeffrey Robinson (Granby, CT) to slice the advantage to 46-40 but MIT responded with a 9-2 spurt that featured 6-for-6 shooting from the free throw line to secure the victory.
MIT drained 8-of-11 second half field attempt and was buoyed by an overall 21-of-24 performance from the free throw line. WPI was outscored 37-24 after the half despite attempting 33 field goals tries but were hampered by an 0-9 showing from 3-point land.
Point guard Mitchell Kates (Colts Neck, NJ) aided Cambridge's Engineers with 13 points while dishing out a game-best five assists. Billy Bender (Woodlands, TX) sparked MIT off the bench with 13 points, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers.
WPI (22-5) had battled back from a 10-point first half deficit to take a 28-26 advantage into the locker room on a Jaime Shannon (Lowell, MA) layup with 5.6 seconds left in the half. The hosts proved opportunistic as they produced half of their total points (26) after forcing 19 MIT turnovers.
Robinson led the way for WPI with 12 points while senior classmate Ben Etten (Hollis, NH) added nine and Shannon chipped in with eight. Etten was also stellar on the defensive end, pacing all players with four steals to go along with a team-best five rebounds.