Beavers Close Game with 17-3 Run to Advance Past Thoroughbreds
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds and third-ranked Babson College closed the game with a 17-3 run on its way to defeating Skidmore College, 72-65, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Saturday night at Staake Gymnasium.
With the win, Babson (27-2) advances to the sectional semifinals for the third consecutive season, while Skidmore sees its year come to a close at 20-8.
Flannery scored 18 first-half points, while junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) hit four second-half three-pointers to finish with 16 points and four assists for the Beavers. Senior Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) contributed 12 points and nine rebounds, classmate Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) added 11 points and rebounds, and fellow senior Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.) chipped in with four rebounds and four assists on the night.
Junior Jack Morrow (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and sophomore Edvinas Rupkus (Naujoji Akmene, Lithuania) both scored 18 points to lead the Thoroughbreds. Senior Aldin Medunjanin (New York, N.Y.) dished out a game-high 10 assists to go along with six rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals in the final game of his career.
Skidmore led by as many as eight in the opening minutes and were up 19-14 midway through the first half before the Green and White ripped off nine straight points to take a 23-19 advantage on a jumper by Flannery with 5:45 to go in the stanza. Two free throws by Medunjanin put the Thoroughbreds back in front 27-26 at the 3:13 mark, but the Beavers closed the period with a 10-2 spurt that included a three-pointer at the buzzer by Rice to take a 36-29 edge into the locker room.
Skidmore responded with a 10-2 run of its own to begin the second half, and pushed its lead to 50-45 on a triple by senior Paris Royce (Harlem, N.Y.) with 13:18 to play. Babson countered with hoops on its next four possessions, which included back-to-back triples by Comenale, to take a 55-51 lead less than two minutes later.
The Beavers went scoreless over the next six minutes though, and the Thoroughbreds took advantage with an 11-0 burst to build a 62-55 edge with 5:57 left on two free throws by Rupkus. Babson answered back as Comenale buried another three-pointer, while Rice followed back-to-back layups by Nelsen with a three-point play to put the hosts back in front 66-62 with 1:32 left.
Rupkus cut the Skidmore deficit to one on the ensuing possession, but Nelsen answered with a jumper, and the Green and White followed a Thoroughbreds turnover with four straight free throws to put the game away.
Despite shooting just 37.5 percent, the Beavers knocked down eight second-half triples and outscored Skidmore 30-12 in the paint. They also finished with a 46-41 edge on the glass and held the Thoroughbreds, who made 14 trifectas, to just 34.4 percent shooting.
Babson will take on 14th-ranked Tufts in a sectional semifinal contest next Friday. Sectional hosts will be announced early on Sunday afternoon.
• The Beavers are now 3-0 all-time against Skidmore and 7-1 in NCAA Tournament home games.
• Saturday's victory was the 36th straight on Saturday for Babson, a streak that dates back to the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
• The Beavers' senior class of Droney, Flannery, Nelsen, Rice, David Stauffer (York, Pa.) and Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.) have now won 99 games over the last four years.
• Flannery is now 16th on the Division III scoring list with 2,506 points. He is also just the fifth player, along with senior Ty Sabin of Ripon (Ill.), to surpass 2,500 points in the last decade.