BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Julian Alexis (Somerville, N.J.) came up with two late steals and classmate Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.) sank the go-ahead free throws with 10.4 seconds to go as Babson College held off the University the of Maine at Farmington, 79-76, in the opening round of the Babson Invitational Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Staake Gymnasium.
Babson, which has won two straight games, improves to 2-1 on the year, while Maine-Farmington slips to 1-1 overall.
Sophomore Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) scored a game-high 22 points and Oftring finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Beavers. Alexis chipped in with nine points and three steals, first-year Beau Smith (Germantown, N.Y.) added seven points, and senior Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) contributed six points, eight rebounds and three of Babson's nine blocked shots.
Junior Amir Moss (Portland, Maine) paced four Beavers in double figures with 20 points. Senior Milani Hicks (Scarborough, Maine) had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, junior Riley Robinson (Dixfield, Maine) scored 14 points and classmate Bill Ruby (Gorham, Maine) contributed 12 points and five assists in the loss.
The Green and White led for much of the second half but Moss and Robinson keyed an 11-2 run that put Maine-Farmington in front 76-75 on a layup by Robinson with 32 seconds to go. Babson turned the ball over on its next possession, but Oftring knocked down a pair of free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound on the heels of a steal by Alexis. Alexis came up with another steal on the ensuing Beavers' possession and connected on a pair of fouls shots for the final margin.
Maine-Farmington opened its biggest lead of the game at 36-29 late in a first half that featured 10 lead changes only to see the hosts close with a 7-0 run to pull even going to the locker rooms. The Green and White began the second half with a 16-7 spurt to extend its biggest margin of the afternoon to 52-43 on back-to-back triples by Alexis and Oftring with 14:09 remaining.
The visitors answered with a 10-0 run to go back in front on a three-pointer by junior Issac Witham (Smithfield, Maine) at the 11:01 mark, but Jaworski and first-year James Welch (Needham, Mass.) hit back-to-back three-pointers to spark and 8-0 burst that helped the Green and White regain the lead less than four minutes later. Maine-Farmington twice cut its deficit to three before Jaworski canned another triple and hit a pair of free throws to extend the Beavers' margin to 71-63 with 4:33 left.
Both teams return to action on Sunday as Babson will take on Endicott at 3 p.m. in the tournament championship game, while Maine-Farmington takes on Suffolk in the consolation game at 1 p.m.
• Saturday's game was the first between Babson and Maine-Farmington since 2005 and the Beavers are now 2-0 all-time in the series.
• Babson has won nine consecutive first round games in its own tournament.
• The Beavers are now 68-11 at home going back to the start of the 2013-14 campaign.