D3 Basketball: Brandeis will attempt to win its second-straight New England Big 4 Challenge this weekend

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Brandeis University will attempt to capture its second-straight New England Big 4 Challenge championship this weekend. (PHOTO COURTESY: Babson College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

Brandeis University captured the 2018 New England Big 4 Challenge last season with a commanding 74-49 win over Babson College and will attempt to win the title again this weekend when they compete in the two-day, four-team tournament at Salem State University.

The Judges will begin their title defense against Tufts University on Saturday, December 7th at 12 p.m. Babson and Salem State will square-off afterward at 2 p.m. The winner of both contests will advance to Sunday’s championship game at 2 p.m. which will follow the consolation game at 12 p.m.

Brandeis will certainly be a team to watch this weekend after beginning their current campaign with a 5-2 mark, but the same could be said for the Beavers of Babson, which enter the weekend tournament with an impressive 7-0 record. The Green and White’s seventh win – an 87-82 victory over Amherst College earlier this week – was highlighted by Frank Oftring, who netted a career-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds. 

Tufts saw its five-game winning streak to start its 2019-20 campaign snapped earlier this week against WPI. The Jumbos scored some impressive non-conference wins prior to their initial setback last month against MIT and UMass Dartmouth.

Salem State will attempt to snap its current five-game losing streak this weekend when they face Babson in the opening round. The Vikings have not appeared in the win column since last month when they defeated Anna Maria College, 89-76.

The winner of the tournament will receive the Crotty Cup, which is named after Michael Crotty Sr., who was the Founder and Director of the Middlesex Magic.

“The tournament features four very good teams from four different leagues, to celebrate the game of basketball and a dear friend to each of us in Michael Crotty Sr., Founder, and Director of the Middlesex Magic AAU Club, who left us far too soon,” said Salem State coach Chris Harvey, via the tournament preview.

While Brandeis has won four New England Big 4 Challenges, Babson has won three – their last came during the 2016-17 season when they captured the program’s first-ever NCAA championship. Tufts has won two titles, while Salem State captured its first-ever tournament crown two years ago.

Around The Rim with Bob Whitney

Around The Rim Whitney Social

By Bob Whitney 

Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)/Big Ten Conference (B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.

This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.

Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.

Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.

Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.

Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday. 

Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.

Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.

Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.

“That is just the greatness of our team is that any night anybody can step-up and play, so it’s really exciting to see how far we can get going,” she said following the Skyhawks’ 68-59 win over the Ravens.

Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.

Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.

Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst CollegeFrank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.

Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.

Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.

I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.

KEEP SHOOTING, Everyone!

Brandeis Tops Babson In Big 4 Challenge Championship,74-49

I4CwSboa_400x400By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11

Make it four-straight early season wins for the Brandeis University men’s basketball team, which defeated Babson College, 74-49, in the 2018 Big 4 Challenge Championship earlier this evening.

The championship win was the Judges’ first since beating Salem State in 2012.

Corey Sherman paced the Blue and White with 25 points, including six freebies and three trifectas, while adding six rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block.

Chandler Jones chipped-in 18 points, six rebounds, one assist and one swipe, while Eric D’Aguanno netted 12 points off the bench.

Sherman was selected as the tournament’s most valuable player, while earning a spot on the all-tournament team, as well. Joining Sherman on the five player team was Jones, along with Babson’s Frank OftringSean Bryan (Salem State) and Brennan Morris (Tufts University).

Brandeis secured a 34-19 lead at the break before tallying 40 points in the final session. Babson, which netted just 30 points in the final 20 minutes, which was held to a season-low 49 points. Oftring paced the Beavers with 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

Prior to Babson-Brandeis, Salem State defeated Tufts, 90-84, to secure a third place finish. Last season, the Vikings defeated the Jumbos and Beavers to claim their first-ever Big 4 Challenge trophy.

The Judges will attempt to continue their early season momentum on Thursday, December 6th when they visit Becker College at 7 p.m.


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