Men's Basketball

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Game Preview: No. 1 Men's Basketball at WPI

Game Preview: No. 1 Men's Basketball at WPI

No. 1 Men's Basketball at WPI
Saturday, February 4—2 p.m.
Harrington Auditorium—Worcester, Mass.


Babson and WPI will meet for the 76th time on Saturday afternoon in a series that dates back to the 1974-75 season. The Beavers are 45-30 all-time against the Engineers and have won four straight in the series going back to 2015.

Senior Isaiah Nelsen led all players with 16 points and nine rebounds as the Beavers built a 24-point second half lead on its way to defeating WPI, 65-59, on January 11 in Babson Park. Juniors Nick Comenale and Bradley Jacks both scored 11 points for Babson, which made just one field goal after taking a 57-33 lead with 11:53 remaining. Juniors Chris Rodgers and Dave Zielinski finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Engineers.

Domenick Mastascusa scored 15 points and senior Aaron Davis added 13 points as the Engineers defeated Babson, 67-57, on January 14, 2015, in Babson Park. Sam Longwell also scored 12 points for WPI, which shot 50 percent and built a 13-point halftime lead. Eric Dean '15 led all scorers with 18 points, while senior Sam Bohmiller added 15 for the Beavers.

WPI (14-6, 5-4 NEWMAC) has won five of its last six games after defeating Emerson, 62-61, on Wednesday night. First-year Jake Wisniewski scored a game-high 17 points and junior Aaron Todd added 15 for the Engineers, who needed a baseline jumper from Rodgers with 1.1 seconds remaining to hold off the Lions. Senior Ian Converse (14.0 pts, 6.2 reb) has averaged 19.5 points on 58.8 percent shooting over the last five games, classmate Sean Doncaster (12.1 pts, 5.1 ast, 4.2 reb) leads the conference in assists and Rodgers is contributing 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds. WPI ranks ninth in Division III in three-point field-goal percentage connecting at a 41.5 percent clip on the year.

No. 1 Babson (19-1, 9-0 NEWMAC) collected its 10th straight win with a 78-64 victory at Wheaton on Wednesday night. Senior Joey Flannery finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Nelsen went 6-of-6 from the floor and finished with 14 points and eight boards for the Beavers, who led by as many as 25 late in the game. Flannery (21.8 pts, 6.6 reb, 4.1 ast) has surpassed 20 points 10 times on the year, Comenale (16.7 pts, 5.4 reb) leads the league with 67 three-point field goals and Nelsen (13.4 pts, 6.3 reb) is shooting 64.8 percent, which ranks 11th in Division III. The Green and White has held seven of nine NEWMAC foes below 40 percent shooting and ranks 10th nationally in field-goal percentage defense.

The Beavers, who now own five winning streaks of at least 10 games over the last three years, have maintained the top spot in the Top 25 poll for six consecutive weeks. The last program to enjoy a stay of six weeks or longer at the top of the rankings was Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which was No. 1 for 11 consecutive polls during the 2013-14 campaign.

Junior Chris Lowry was superb in his first career start on Wednesday night against Wheaton. Starting in place of Bohmiller, he finished with career highs of eight points and six rebounds to go along with a game-high six assists in 28 minutes of action.

Entering the weekend, Flannery is the only player in Division II or Division III that is averaging better than 20 points, six rebounds and four assists per game this season.

Each of the last four games and six of the last eight contests overall between Babson and Engineers have been decided by six points or less going back to 2013.

The Beavers' 20-game NEWMAC winning streak is currently the longest conference winning streak in Division III.