Beavers Shoot 70 Percent in Opening Half, Match Best Start in Program History at 9-0
SALEM, Mass.—Senior Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.) scored a game-high 29 points, junior Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) added 26 and Babson College shot 70 percent in the first half on its way to defeating Tufts University, 99-85, in the championship game of the New England Big 4 Challenge on Sunday afternoon inside Twohig Gymnasium.
Babson, which captured its first tournament crown since 2016 and fourth overall since 2013, improves to 9-0 for just the second time in program history. Tufts, which was playing in its first Big 4 Challenge final in four seasons, slips to 6-2 on the year with the loss.
Oftring, who earned tournament most valuable player honors, went 11-of-16 from the floor, dished out four assists and grabbed 10 boards to record his third consecutive double-double. Junior Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) scored 26 points, sophomore Colin Bradanese (Billerica, Mass.) added 13, and junior Crew Ainge (Wellesley, Mass.) contributed 12 points and seven assists for the Beavers.
Sophomore Carson Cohen (Pittsburgh, Pa.) paced four players in double figures with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists for the Jumbos. Senior Eric Savage (South Brunswick, N.J.) scored 15 points and sophomore Tyler Aronson (Holliston, Mass.), who went 4-of-6 from deep, chipped in with 14 points in the loss.
Cohen, Aronson and junior Brennan Morris (East Hempstead, N.H.) all made three-pointers as Tufts jumped out to a 14-7 advantage four minutes into the contest. The lead was short-lived however, as the Green and White outscored the Jumbos 53-32 over the final 13:42 of the opening half to seize control of the game.
Bradanese scored six points and Jaworski and first-year Andrew Kirkpatrick (Winnetka, Ill.) added five points apiece during a 22-4 spurt that saw the Beavers go in front 38-24 with 8:20 to go in the period. A three-pointer by Jaworski gave Babson its biggest lead of the half at 44-29, and Bradanese and Ainge scored the final nine points of the stanza after Tufts pulled within nine to send the Beavers into the locker room up 60-46.
The Green and White scored on four of its first six possessions of the second half, opening a 70-50 advantage on a three-pointer by Oftring with 17:31 to go. The Jumbos countered with an 14-5 run that cut their deficit to 75-64 with 12 minutes remaining, but Jaworski answered with five points during an 8-0 run extended the margin back to 83-64 with under nine minutes to play.
Tufts closed the game to 14 with 6:01 to play only to see Babson score on each of its next five possessions as the lead ballooned to 98-73 with 4:02 left.
The Green and White shot a season-best 57.8 percent for the game, finished 11-of-25 from three-point range (44 percent), and outscored the Jumbos 44-26 in the paint.
Babson returns to action on December 30 when it faces Eastern Connecticut State at 7 p.m. in the Trinity Holiday Invitational, while Tufts travels to UMass Boston on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
• The Beavers are 16-27 all-time against Tufts, which includes a 4-4 record in eight Big 4 Challenge meetings.
• Oftring and Jaworski, who was named to the all-tournament team, combined to score 38 of Babson's 60 first-half points.
• The only other team to start 9-0 in program history was the 2016-17 squad, which lost its 10th game of the season in double-overtime at Amherst before going on to win a Division III national championship in March.
• Babson has won its last eight games against NESCAC opponents and is 13-3 against the league going back to 2016-17.