BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) finished with 24 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) added 20 points and a career-high 16 boards as top-seeded Babson College outlasted MIT, 81-69, in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon at Staake Gymnasium.
No. 20 Babson (21-5) won its 11th straight game and claimed back-to-back league tournament championships for the first time since winning three straight Constitution Athletic Conference (CAC) crowns from 1991-93. The Beavers also earned the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. MIT (21-6) now must wait to see if it receives one of 19 at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament when the pairings are announced on Monday.
Sophomore Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) scored 18 points to go along with seven rebounds for the Beavers.
Senior Justin Pedley (Kennewick, Wash.) scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half to lead the Engineers. First-year Bradley Jomard (Paris, France) added 16 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) chipped in with nine points and five assists.
MIT made three of its eight first-half three-point field goals in the first five minutes and led 17-9 at the 14:56 mark. Babson responded with a 13-2 run, including eight straight points from Comenale, to take a 22-19 lead with 10:30 to play in the half. Pedley and first-year Cameron Korb (Los Gatos, Calif.) connected on back-to-back triples to spark a 13-6 burst that put the Engineers back in front 32-28 at the 6:41 mark, but the Beavers followed with a 9-2 run of their own to match their biggest lead of the period at 37-34 with 3:33 to go until halftime.
Pedley, who was 6-of-8 from distance in the first half, hit three late triples to give MIT a 43-39 lead at the break, and Jomard knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Engineers advantage to 47-39 less than a minute into the second half. Flannery ripped off eight straight points to pull the Green and White within one, and Nelsen followed with consecutive baskets to give Babson a 51-50 lead at the 16:11 mark.
The lead changed hands twice before Nelsen converted a three-point play to put the Beavers up for good at 57-54 with 12:26 remaining. MIT twice got within one, but Comenale drilled a trey from the left corner and first-year Tyler Colon (Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.) knocked down two free throws to extend the advantage to 66-60 with just under six minutes to go.
Pedley drilled his seventh three-pointer of the game to cut the Engineers' deficit to three on the next possession, but two free throws from Nelsen and back-to-back hoops by junior Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.) and Colon gave Babson a 72-63 edge with 2:27 left. The Green and White went 7-of-8 at the charity stripe over the final 65 seconds to ice the win.
The Beavers shot 43.8 percent (28-of-64), held a 45-36 edge on the glass and a 15-5 advantage in second-chance points.
MIT shot 41.3 percent (26-of-63) on the afternoon, but were just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second half after going 8-of-13 over the opening 20 minutes.
Babson, which was fourth in Wednesday's NCAA regional rankings, will find out where they are headed during the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Selection Show on Monday at 12:30 p.m. The Beavers reached the national semifinals in last season's Division III Tournament.
• Babson is 51-20 all-time against MIT and has won seven of its last eight games against the Engineers.
• The Beavers have won nine consecutive postseason home games and are 11-2 at home this season.
• The Green and White has won 28 of its last 29 games against NEWMAC foes.
• Babson is 41-2 over the last two years when outscoring its opponents at the free throw line.