BABSON PARK, Mass.—After seeing its 16-point lead trimmed to just three with under seven minutes to play, WPI junior Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, Mass.) knocked down three consecutive three-pointers as the Engineers went on to defeat 19th-ranked Babson College, 75-56, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's basketball action on Wednesday night inside Staake Gymnasium.
Babson, which is fifth in the initial NCAA regional rankings, had its six-game winning streak snapped to fall to 18-4 overall and 8-3 in league play. WPI, which is ranked sixth in the region, improves to 18-4 overall and 9-2 in the NEWMAC with its fourth straight win.
Senior Jack Coolahan (Newtown, Pa.) scored 17 points and junior Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) finished with 14 points for the Beavers. Classmate Crew Ainge (Wellesley, Mass.) added 12 points, six boards and four steals in the loss.
Senior Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, Mass.) posted his second double-double of the year with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to lead the Engineers. Wheeler went 5-of-6 from deep and finished with 17 points, while juniors Kahleb Downing (Middletown, Conn.) and Colin McNamara (Arlington, Mass.) both added 11 points in the win.
Ainge scored seven early points and the Green and White led 11-8 less than five minutes into the contest before going scoreless for a stretch of 6:43 while WPI used a 13-0 run to take a 21-11 advantage midway through the half. The Beavers got back-to-back jumpers from Coolahan and Jaworski and five straight points at the free throw line to cut their deficit to 23-22 at the 4:30 mark, but McNamara, senior Lou Doherty (Arlington, Mass.) and Wheeler all connected from deep as the Engineers closed the stanza with a 12-4 spurt to lead 35-26 going to the locker room.
WPI scored on its first three possessions out of the break to extend the margin to 42-26 just over two minutes into the second half. Jaworski scored six of Babson's next 10 points to pull within 44-36 at the 14:59 mark, and consecutive three-point plays by first-years Andrew Kirkpatrick (Winnetka, Ill.) and Aaron Gao (Bridgewater, N.J.) pulled the Beavers within 49-44 with 10:29 to play.
Jaworski capped another 6-0 run with a driving layup to make it 55-52 with 6:46 left, but it's as close as the Green and White would get. Wheeler canned triples on each of the Engineers' next three possessions, and Wisniewski followed up a free throw with a bucket in the paint to stretch the WPI advantage to 67-52 with 3:19 to go.
Babson, which missed its final 11 field goal attempts, was unable to get any closer than 12 down the stretch.
The Beavers shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and finished just 1-of-15 (6.7 percent) from three-point range. WPI shot 43.3 percent on the night and held a dominating 45-26 edge on the glass.
Both teams return to action on Saturday as Babson hosts Wheaton at 2 p.m., while WPI takes on Emerson at 3 p.m.
• The Beavers are 50-33 all-time against WPI but have dropped three of their last four games in the all-time series.
• Babson's one three-pointer in Wednesday's loss is its fewest since going 1-of-10 in a 62-51 victory over MIT back on February 21, 2015.
• The Beavers failed to score 60 points for the first time since a 57-54 setback in the final regular season game of the 2019 campaign.
• Prior to Wednesday, Babson's last five losses going back to last February had all come by four points or less.