BABSON PARK, Mass.--Sophomore Bradley Jomard (Paris, France) finished with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals to help second-seeded MIT edge top-ranked Babson College, 67-62, in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon at Staake Gymnasium.
With the victory, MIT (21-5) avenged a pair of regular season losses to Babson and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers (25-2), who have been ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com poll since December 19, saw their 25-game NEWMAC and 21-game home winning streaks come to end. Ironically, both streaks started following a regular season loss to the Engineers on January 20, 2016.
Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) led all scorers with 25 points and also pulled down seven rebounds for Babson, which once again was missing a pair of starters in senior Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.) and junior Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.). Senior Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.) finished with nine points and three steals, while junior Chris Lowry (Union, Conn.) scored eight points and dished out two assists.
Senior Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.), the NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, scored 14 points and sophomore Spencer Rust (Alamo, Calif.) added 12 for the Engineers, who never trailed in the contest.
Sophomore AJ Jurko (Weston, Fla.) scored five consecutive points to give MIT a 14-7 lead just over five minutes into the contest, and the Engineers responded to a 7-0 Beavers' run with a 14-2 spurt of their own to build a 30-16 advantage just shy of eight-minute mark of the opening half. Four players scored at least eight points and the visitors went 10-of-10 at the free throw line to build a 44-29 halftime lead.
The Green and White started the second half with a 7-2 run to pull within 46-39 on a three-pointer by Lowry with 16:02 to go. MIT ripped off eight of the next 10 points to push the margin back to 13, and still led 57-47 with 9:13 left before the Beavers made one final push to get as close as one in the final minute.
Back-to-back hoops by senior Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) cut the Babson deficit to 59-51, and senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) followed a three-pointer by junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) with a pair of free throws to make it 63-56 with 4:05 remaining. Flannery scored off a steal, Nelsen connected on a jump hook in the lane and Rice converted another layup over the next three possessions as the Green and White closed the gap to 63-62 with 1:25 left.
Flannery rebounded a miss by Rust with 34 seconds to go, but Babson was unable to take the lead despite a pair of shots on the ensuing possession. Flannery was blocked by Butala with 15 seconds to go and his driving layup with nine seconds left came up short. Butala then went 4-of-4 from the free throw line over the final five seconds to seal the win.
The Beavers shot 42.9 percent for the game and scored 22 points off of 15 MIT turnovers.
The Engineers shot 43.4 percent overall and finished with a 34-27 edge on the glass.
Both Babson and MIT will find out who they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday at 12:30 p.m.
- The Beavers are 54-20 all-time against MIT and had won nine of their last 10 against the Engineers prior to Sunday's loss.
- Sunday's loss snapped Babson's 16-game winning streak, which was the second longest in program history behind the 2014-15 squad, which won 17 consecutive games on the way to the Division III Final Four.
- The Beavers finished with a season-low nine assists on Sunday.
- Babson is now 11-5 over the last two years in games decided by five points or less.