Men’s basketball comes up short in a see-saw battle against Babson

In a game that saw 11 lead changes and seven ties, No. 3 seeded-MIT put up a fight against No. 1 seed Babson College in the championship game of the 2016 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men’s basketball tournament. The Beavers managed to pull away late in the second half, however, and claimed the championship with an 81-69 victory. Junior Joey Flannery was named the tournament MVP and scored 24 points to lead Babson. Justin Pedley ’16 led MIT with 23 points.

It was a game of back-and-forth in the first half as neither team could gain a clear advantage. MIT (20-7) jumped out to an early 7-2 lead on the strength of a three from Ryan Frankel ’16. Babson (21-5) came back to tie the game at 9-all on a three-point play from Flannery four minutes in, and it remained close for the rest of the half.

A pair of threes from Pedley, who had 20 points in the half, pushed the Engineers to a 17-9 lead, but the Beavers were back even again at the midway point of the half when sophomore Nick Comenale scored eight straight points to knot things up at 22-all. Babson managed to grab its first lead of the half in the final seven and a half minutes, but lost it for good soon after the 2:30 mark. Junior Sam Bohmiller hit both free throws for a 39-37 Babson lead, but Pedley then closed out his outstanding half, draining two threes in the remaining 1:30 for the final points of the half and a 43-39 MIT lead.

MIT scored the first four points of the second half to extend its lead to eight points, but Flannery scored the first eight points of the half for Babson to spark his team, and with 16:11 left, a basket by junior Isaiah Nelson had the Beavers back in the lead at 52-51. From then on, the game again went back-and-forth, with neither team being able to pull ahead.

With 8:23 left, Lampros Tsontzos ’16 hit on a layup that had MIT within one at 61-60, but from there the Engineers’ offense struggled to hit shots and collected only three more field goals the rest of the game. Babson took advantage and outscored the Engineers, 15-5, over a five and a half minute span to take control of the contest.

With 1:05 left, Flannery was fouled and sank a pair of free throws that brought the score to 76-65. The Beavers went on to hit on 5-of-6 free throws in the last minute to ice the win and capture their second straight NEWMAC crown and the automatic NCAA bid that goes with it.

Bradley Jomard ’19 was the only other player in double figures for MIT, finishing with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with three assists and three blocks. Nelson also recorded a double-double for Babson, finishing with 20 points and 16 boards, helping the Beavers to a 45-32 edge on the boards. Flannery had seven rebounds for Babson, as did Comenale who finished with 18 points.