Beavers Clinch NEWMAC Tournament Berth With First Regular-Season Sweep of Engineers Since 2003
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) finished with 41 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as Babson College outlasted 19th-ranked WPI, 91-87, in double overtime on Saturday afternoon in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action at Staake Gymnasium.
Babson, which has won five straight games, is now 15-5 overall and 9-1 in league play, while WPI, which is in the midst of its first three-game losing streak in at least a decade, falls to 16-5 overall and 6-4 in the NEWMAC.
Flannery, who played all 50 minutes, went 14-of-26 from the floor and scored 14 points in the overtime periods for the Beavers. Sophomore Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) scored a career-high 18 points, junior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and sophomore Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) chipped in with 13 points and eight boards in the win.
Senior Clyde Niba (Dacula, Ga.) scored 23 points, while junior Sean Doncaster (Medford, Mass.) finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four steals to lead the Engineers. First-year Jashanti Allen (New York, N.Y.) contributed career highs of 16 points and seven assists in a team-high 47 minutes of action.
The teams traded first half runs before WPI closed the stanza with a 12-2 run to take a 40-36 lead into the locker room on a three-pointer by Niba at the buzzer. Led by seven points from Nelsen, Babson opened the second half with a 19-6 spurt and took its biggest lead of the game at 55-46 on a triple by Comenale with 10:59 to play.
The Engineers ripped off seven consecutive points to get within two, only to see the Beavers respond with the next seven to make it 62-53 at the 4:55 mark. WPI scored on six of its next seven possessions though, including back-to-back treys from Doncaster to get within 69-67 with 34 seconds remaining. Jacks made 1-of-2 at the line with 18 seconds to push the Green and White lead to 70-67, but Allen connected on a 35-foot triple with five ticks left to force overtime.
The first extra session featured four ties and three lead changes with neither team leading by more than three. Flannery gave Babson a 75-72 edge with a three-point play with 3:35 remaining, but Allen and Niba connected on back-to-back treys to give the Engineers a 78-75 lead. The Beavers scored the next six points to take an 81-78 advantage on a pull-up jumper by Comenale with 29 seconds to go, but Doncaster answered with a three-pointer to tie the game at 81. The Green and White had one final possession, but Flannery's jumper was off the mark, sending the contest to a second overtime.
Flannery gave the Beavers an 86-85 lead with a three-point play, and then followed a jump shot by WPI junior Ian Converse (Woodstock, Conn.) with a triple from the right wing to give Babson the lead for good at 89-87 with 2:53 left. Neither team scored over the next two and a half minutes before Flannery pushed the lead to 90-87 by going 1-of-2 at the line with 15 seconds remaining. Allen's layup on the Engineers' next possession rimmed out and Babson junior Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) sealed the win with a free throw in the closing seconds.
The Beavers shot 44.3 percent (31-of-70) from the floor and finished 20-of-23 at the free throw line. The Green and White also finished with a 46-38 edge on the glass and scored 11 second-chance points.
WPI shot 40.3 percent (31-of-77) overall and 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from beyond the arc.
Both teams return to action on Wednesday as Babson visits Springfield at 7:30 p.m., while the Engineers travel to MIT for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
• The Beavers are 44-30 all-time against WPI and swept the regular-season series for the first time since 2002-03.
• Babson has won 22 of its last 23 games against NEWMAC opponents going back to last season.
• Flannery, who finished two points shy of his career high, moved into third place on Babson's all-time scoring list with 1,710 points. He also became the 15th player in school history to reach 500 rebounds.
• Nelsen now has a team-high seven double-doubles this season, while Flannery recorded his sixth double-double of the year.