Mass. College Hoops: Babson Rallies Past Trinity, Advances To Div. III Final Four

By NoontimeSports.com

Courtesy of the Babson College Athletics’ Communication Office, here is Saturday evening’s release from the men’s basketball game against Trinity College.

Babson rallied to force overtime before going on a 10-3 in the extra session that capped their comeback and secured them a spot in Friday’s (Mar. 20) Division III Final Four:

BABSON PARK, Mass.—Sophomore Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.) knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with 54 seconds left in regulation as fourth-ranked Babson College rallied to defeat Trinity College, 76-69, in an NCAA Tournament Sectional Final on Saturday night at Staake Gymnasium.

With its 17th straight win, Babson is headed to the NCAA Division III Final Four for the first time in program history. Trinity, which was making its first sectional championship game appearance since 1999, concludes its season at 23-7.

Senior John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) scored a game-high 23 points to go along with four assists to lead the Beavers. Sophomore Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) added 20 points four rebounds and two steals, while senior Eric Dean (Gilford, N.H.) and Droney each added nine points. Dean and fellow senior David Mack (Holden, Mass.) both pulled down seven boards in the win.

Junior Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the Bantams with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds. Classmate Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) added 21 points and eight boards, while sophomore Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

After six early lead changes, Trinity used a 9-2 run to forge a 16-10 lead on a three-pointer by Starks with 12:35 to go in the opening half. Babson responded with six consecutive points to spark a 15-5 spurt to grab a 25-21 lead on two free throws by Wickey with 6:26 to play before halftime.

The Bantams regained the lead on a hoop by Starks at 26-25, and then closed the stanza by scoring on six of their final seven possessions to take a 41-33 lead into the locker room.

Trinity took its biggest lead of the game at 45-36 on an Ogundeko hoop, and later matched it on a three-point play by senior George Papadeas (Athens, Greece) with 12:40 left in the second half. Wickey and first-year Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) combined to score the next nine points for the Beavers though, cutting their deficit to 52-50 with 9:16 to play.

The Bantams regained control, getting a pair of second-chance hoops by Ajayi, and a layup by Ogundeko to forge a 62-55 lead with 4:17 remaining. Dean scored three straight points to get the Green and White back within four, but Starks answered with a pull-up trey to give Trinity a 65-58 lead with 2:52 to go in regulation.

Babson made free throws on its next two possessions and forced three straight turnovers, pulling to within one after a steal and dunk by Flannery with 29 seconds to go. Junior Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) knocked down 1-of-2 at the line to make it 66-64, but Flannery converted a driving layup to tie the game at 66-66 with 13 seconds left. The Bantams had the final possession of regulation but were unable to get a shot up, sending the game to overtime.

The teams each made a free throw in the opening two minutes of the extra session before Wickey put the Beavers ahead 69-67 with a bucket in the paint. Following two empty possessions, Ajayi knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 69-69 with 1:19 to go. Droney connected on just his fifth three-pointer of the season on Babson’s next possession, and the hosts made four straight free throws over the final 22 seconds to secure a trip to the program’s first final four.

The Green and White shot 50 percent (23-of-46) from the floor and outscored Trinity 25-16 from the free throw line. Trinity shot just 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the field and were just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc for the game.

Babson will take on sixth-ranked Augustana (26-4) on Friday at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.

GAME NOTES: The victory was just the second over Trinity in program history…Babson finished the season 19-2 at home…the Beavers have won 12 straight games when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor…Babson has won 32 straight games and is 26-1 this season when outscoring its opponent at the free throw line…the Beavers are 11-1 this winter in games decided by five points or less or in overtime…the victory was also Babson’s eighth of the year when trailing at halftime…the Beavers are 23-0 this season when scoring at least 60 points.

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