By David Tanklefsky (@DavidTanklefsky)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – There was less than four minutes remaining when Babson College took its first lead of the game.
And that lead would never be relinquished.
The Beavers, who tallied just 17 points in the first half, scored 54 in the second en route to defeating MIT, 71-65, at Rockwell Cage on Wednesday evening in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play.
Babson overcame a slow start in the opening session in which they shot under 26%, including 0-for-10 from beyond the arc to a second half in which they shot above 65% and drilled seven-of-12 trifectas.
“We did a good job running balls screens,” Babson head coach Stephen
Brennan said of his team’s second half effort.
“A lot of different people played the point and a lot of different people set the screens.”
MIT did a superb job of limiting Babson’s Joey Flannery in the
first half, who was whistled for a pair of fouls, while tallying just two points. He rebounded in the second half – literally – jumpstarting the Beavers’ offense with 11 points, while locating Isaiah Nelsen (18 points and four rebounds) for multiple easy backdoor layups.
“It’s hard to take him out (of his game),” Brennan said of Flannery, who finished the contest with 13 points. “When he gets a full-head of steam, he’s pretty crafty.”
MIT came out of the gate with purpose, gathering up an early lead, while looking to avenge their 12-point defeat to the Green and White from last February’s NEWMAC championship game by securing a 7-0 advantage before Nick Comenale put the Beavers on the board with a layup.
Cameron Korb responded shortly after, keeping the momentum on MIT’s side by drilling his second trifecta minutes later that pushed the hosts ahead, 27-15, before ending the session on an 11-4 run, securing a 30-17 lead at the break. The 13-point lead was MIT’s biggest lead of the frame.
As the second half commenced, MIT Coach Larry Anderson called an early timeout, just ten seconds into the half following a Flannery layup – his first field goal of the contest.
Minutes after the quick breather, Korb helped MIT push ahead with a three-pointer from the wing, which provided the Engineers with their biggest lead of the game (42-27) with 13:25 remaining.
Babson would begin to deduct the deficit roughly one minute later as Flannery and Nelsen got the offense started with a number of high screen pick-and-rolls before ending the Green and White’s futility streak from beyond the arc with 12:39 remaining.
Flannery’s trifecta with 12:39 remaining would be the team’s first of the contest – the unit was 0-for-13 before he converted their 14th attempt.
Babson’s Matthew Droney hit a three with 10:47 to play that cut the lead to five before Flannery connected with Nelsen on another backdoor pass a minute later on transition to bring the visitors within three-points (44-41).
Comenale would keep momentum on the Beavers’ side – he was a big part of Babson’s second half Renaissance – as he converted three-of-four in the session with all his field goals being three-pointers. One of those triples tied the game at 55-55, but it was a Sam Bohmiller three-pointer that put Babson ahead for good.
MIT attempted to regain the lead with a Tim Butala layup that brought the hosts within one point, however, that was the closest they would get as a layup shortly afterward by Nelsen secured the win for the Beaver.
Wednesday’s win extended Babson’s conference road winning streak to 21 games, a streak now fast approaching three years.
Both teams return to action Saturday with Babson visiting Coast Guard Academy on while MIT heads to Emerson College.