By Matt Noonan
Trailing 41-33 at the break, Babson rallied to force overtime, outscoring Trinity College (Conn.) down the stretch, 43-28, to claim a 76-69 victory on Saturday evening in the NCAA Division III Sectional Finals.
With the win, Babson advances to it first-ever NCAA “Final Four,” which is scheduled to take place next Friday, March 20 in Salem, Virginia. The Beavers will face the winner of Augustana (Ill.)-Marietta.
Virginia Wesleyan also punched it ticket to the semifinals, knocking off Randolph-Macon, 49-47. They will face the winner of East-Texas Baptist vs. Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Babson’s John Wickey led all players with 23 points, Joey Flannery chipped in 20 points, four rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block, and Sam Bohmiller sank two crucial free throws in overtime that sealed the victory.
Trinity was led by Shay Ajayi, who finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and one steal. Jaquann Starks added 21 points and eight boards for the Bantams, while Ed Ogundeko added 10 points off the bench.
Babson tailed a majority of the second half until Flannery jumpstarted a late rally with a full court dunk following a steal on defense. He would add a layup roughly 16 seconds later that evened the score at 66-66 and forced an extra session.
In overtime, Babson and Trinity swapped buckets until Matthew Droney drilled a three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining, which pushed the Beavers ahead for good. Bohmiller and Flannery extended the lead with a pair of free throws, respectively.
Tufts 58, FDU-Florham 52: The Jumbos are headed back to Final Four as they defeated the defending national champion Devils in Cousens Gymnasium in Medford in the NCAA Sectional Finals.
Tufts’ Lauren Dillon led all scorers with 14 points, while Shalette Brown and Alyssa McDonough paced FDU-Florham with 12points apiece. Tufts also received double-doubles from Hayley Kanner and Michela North, as the two players combined for 23 points and 21 rebounds.
The Jumbos trailed, 30-28, at the break, but outscored the Devils during the second stanza, 30-22. Tufts began pulling away late in the second half when Kanner recorded a layup with 8:07 remaining. North netted back-to-back free throws that pushed the Jumbos ahead 47-42, but the Devils did close the gap with a pair of free throws from Delisha Thompson and a layup by Brown with 5:27 remaining.
Both teams traded baskets over the next few minutes before Dillon sank a trifecta with 3:34 left, which was followed by one Emma Roberson free throw. Dillon clinched the victory with 55 seconds remaining, sinking one of two free throws. Kanner also converted one free throw before Tufts’ Josie Lee collected the game’s final rebound – a missed free throw – that sealed the win.
Tufts will take on Thomas More next Friday, March 20 in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a chance to contend for the National Championship on Saturday, March 21. Tip off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
George Fox and Montclair State will tangle in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. with the winner advance to the following day’s title round.