Beavers Extend Winning Streak to 15, Become First Team to Finish NEWMAC Play Unbeaten
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) buried a three-pointer from the left corner with 1.1 seconds remaining and top-ranked Babson College scored the final 13 points of the game to defeat MIT, 70-67, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball on Saturday afternoon at Staake Gymnasium.
With its 15th straight win, Babson ends the regular season at 24-1 overall and 14-0 in conference play, becoming the first team to go undefeated in NEWMAC history. MIT, which is ninth in the most recent NCAA regional rankings, falls to 19-6 overall and 11-3 in league play.
Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) finished with 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Beavers, while junior Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) added 14 points and seven boards, and Comenale contributed 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the win.
Senior Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) scored a game-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with eight boards for the Engineers. Sophomore AJ Jurko (Weston, Fla.) added 19 points and classmate Cameron Korb (Los Gatos, Calif.) finished with 12 in the loss.
Flannery knocked down a three-pointer and Comenale converted a three-point play to give the Green and White a 23-22 edge midway through the first half before MIT used a 25-5 run to build a 19-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. Jurko and Butala combined for 12 points over the final 9:10 of the opening period to give the Engineers a 40-28 lead at the break, and Jurko drained one of his three triples to give the visitors as 47-28 advantage with 18:27 to play.
Flannery and Comenale responded with eight straight points and Jacks followed with a three-point play to cap an 11-0 run that cut the Beavers' deficit to eight with 14:45 left. MIT quickly countered though, using an 11-2 burst to push its lead back to 58-46 with 10:22 to play.
The Engineers' advantage was still 10 with 4:16 to play before Babson ripped off the final 13 points. Jacks started the run with a layup and then followed a pair of free throws by Nelsen with his third three-pointer of the night to make it 67-64. Flannery went 1-of-2 at the line with 2:10 remaining and senior Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.) found Nelsen underneath with the shot clock running down for the tying layup with 1:09 to play.
MIT missed on a pair of opportunities to go ahead on its next possession and the Beavers got the ball back with 20 seconds to go. Flannery drove middle from the right wing before kicking to Comenale for the deciding three-pointer just in front of the Babson bench.
The Beavers shot 48.9 percent for the game and finished with a 32-28 edge in the paint. The Green and White also outscored the Engineers 20-10 at the free throw line.
MIT, which shot 44.6 percent, scored 20 points off of 18 Babson turnovers and held a slim 28-26 edge on the glass.
The Beavers will host either Springfield or Wheaton next Saturday in a NEWMAC Tournament semifinal at 5 p.m., while the Engineers will face MIT next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
• The Beavers are now 53-20 all-time against MIT and have won nine of the last 10 games between the teams.
• Babson has now won 33 straight Saturday games, 25 straight against NEWMAC opponents and 20 straight at home, which is the second longest streak in the country.
• The Beavers are 3-1 this season in games decided by five points or less.
• Prior to the game, Babson honored Flannery, Nelsen, Droney and fellow seniors Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.), David Stauffer (York, Pa.) and Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.). This group has won a program record 96 games over the last four years.