By Matt Noonan
Augustana College used a 19-1 run during the final minutes of the second half as the Vikings defeated Babson College in the 2015 NCAA Division III semifinals at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia.
The Vikings will play for the title tomorrow evening against the winner of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Virginia Wesleyan.
Babson’s Joey Flannery paced the Beavers and all scorers with a game-high 27 points, while chipping in six rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. David Mack added eight points and pulled down three defensive boards, John Wickey registered three points, five rebounds, four assists and one block and Sam Bohmiller finished with five points and one steal.
Hunter Hill led the Vikings with 18 points, while chipping in four caroms and four assists. Nic Hoepfner stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks, while Griffin Pils netted 10 points.
As a team, Augustana converted 17-of-22 free throws. They also sank 23-of-54 shots and drilled five three-pointers. Babson finished 18-of-45 from the floor and was 10-for-15 from the stripe.
Babson overcame a 32-19 deficit at the break with a 22-9 run, which was sparked by back-to-back layups from Flannery and Wickey. Bradley Jacks capped the run with a jumper that evened the score at 41-41 with 9:00 remaining in the second stanza.
Both teams swapped baskets over the next few minutes before a trifecta from Hill pushed the Vikings ahead for good.
The setback snapped Babson’s 17-game winning streak, which featured back-to-back New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinal and championship victories against MIT and Springfield. The Green and White went onto earn four straight NCAA Tournament victories, including a come-from-behind win last Saturday against Trinity College in the Sectional Finals.
Babson closes its season with a 29-3 record, their best season in program history. Friday’s semifinal contest was their first-ever in program history.