Men's Basketball Advances To NEWMAC Semis With 62-58 Win Over Wheaton
BABSON PARK, Mass. – Junior Alex Rudolph (Bal Harbour, Fla.) hit a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining to help the fourth-seeded Babson College Beavers defeat fifth-seeded Wheaton College, 62-58, in the opening round of the 2012 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men's Basketball Tournament at Babson's Staake Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Beavers (14-12) advance to this Saturday's semifinal round at MIT, where they will take on the top-seeded Engineers at 1 p.m. Meanwhile, the Lyons see their season come to a close with a record of 11-14.
Rudolph led all players with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including a 2-of-4 clip from three-point range, and 3-for-3 shooting from the foul line. The junior swingman also pulled down six rebounds and recorded two steals. First-year John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) chipped in with 10 points and five boards, senior captain Matt Florio (Skillman, N.J.) tacked on team-highs of seven rebounds and five assists, and sophomore Conor Boyen (Woodbury, Conn.) matched his career-high with nine points to go with three blocked shots off the bench. Also playing well in the winning effort were junior Marcus McDermott (Milton, Mass.), who grabbed four boards and dished out four assists, and sophomore Matt Palazini (Franklin, Mass.), who scored eight points and pull down five caroms.
Wheaton received strong performances from both of its senior captains, as Brendan Degnan (Narragansett, R.I.) finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists and Anthony Weeks (Fitchburg, Mass.) added 12 points and six boards. Junior Cliften Desravines (Somerville, Mass.) also had a standout game for the Lyons, shooting 6-for-8 from the field to finish with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots, and sophomore Will Bayliss (Manchester, N.H.) contributed nine points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Babson's defense dominated the game early on, as the Beavers held Wheaton scoreless for the first 6:44 while netting eight unanswered points at the other end. The hosts later pushed their advantage to 10 at 12-2 before an 8-1 run by Wheaton cut the deficit to just three, 13-10, at the midway mark of the first half.
The Lyons would get to within two points twice in the next three minutes, including a 17-15 deficit following a lay-up by Desravines with 7:30 to go in the session. Babson then re-extended the lead to double-digits with another 8-0 burst that was fueled by five points from Wickey. The Beavers would later take their largest advantage of the game after a three-pointer by Rudolph made it 30-17 with just over two minutes left, but the Lyons closed the period with seven unanswered points of their own to make it a six-point affair, 30-24, heading into the break. Degnan and Desravines each had key buckets during the closing spurt for Wheaton, while senior Bruno Naylor (Los Angeles, Calif.) added a conventional three-point play.
Babson shot 40.7 percent (11-27) in the first period of play, while the Lyons bounced back from a slow start to end up with a 33.3 percent clip (8-24) in the opening 20 minutes. Defensively, the Beavers forced a total of 11 turnovers while committing just six of their own, resulting in a 17-4 advantage in points off miscues.
Wheaton remained within striking distance for the first seven minutes of the second half, eventually getting to within a single possession after a three-pointer by first-year Eddie Capstick (Worcester, Mass.) made it 41-38 with 13:30 left in the game. However, Boyen drained a three-pointer and then hit back-to-back lay-ups as part of a personal 7-0 run that pushed Babson's lead back to 10 at 48-38 with 9:19 to go.
The Beavers still led by double figures at 55-44 with under four minutes left to play, but Wheaton once again climbed back to within three thanks to a 9-1 run that featured five points from Weeks. A clutch three from McDermott and a free throw from first-year David Mack (Holden, Mass.) then gave Babson some breathing room at 60-53, but Degnan responded with five straight points – the first three on a trifecta with 30.9 seconds left and, after the hosts came up empty at the other end, two more from the foul line – as Wheaton climbed within two, 60-58, with 11.4 seconds remaining.
After drawing a foul at midcourt, Rudolph finally put the game out of reach when he calmly sank both of his free throws with 6.4 on the clock. The Lyons would misfire on a desperation heave from half court and an attempted tip-in at the buzzer as Babson came away with the hard-fought 62-58 victory.
The Beavers now head to Cambridge, where they will take on top-seeded MIT, ranked third in the nation by D3hoops.com, in the NEWMAC Semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. The second semifinal will feature second-seeded WPI and third-seeded Springfield at 3 p.m., with the two winners meeting in the Championship Game on Sunday at 1 p.m.