No. 3 Men's Hoops Downs No. 14 Tufts, 87-80, in NCAA Sectional Semifinals

No. 3 Men's Hoops Downs No. 14 Tufts, 87-80, in NCAA Sectional Semifinals

BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) poured in an NCAA Tournament program record 38 points as third-ranked Babson College defeated 14th-ranked Tufts University, 87-80, in a sectional semifinal contest on Friday night at Staake Gymnasium.

With the win, Babson (28-2) advances to the national quarterfinals for the second time in three years, while Tufts closes its season at 22-7.

Flannery was 11-of-20 from the floor and 13-of-15 at the free throw line, while also pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out two assists. Senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) finished with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting, classmate Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) added 13 points and junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) chipped in with 12.

First-year Eric Savage (South Brunswick, N.J.) finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Jumbos. Junior Vincent Pace (Bridgewater, N.J.) and sophomore Ethan Feldman (New York, N.Y.) both scored 14 points, while senior Tom Palleschi (Haverhill, Mass.) contributed 13 points and five rebounds in the final game of his career.

The Green and White scored on six of its first seven possessions and built a 21-7 lead just over five minutes into the game. Flannery and Nelsen combined for 28 of the Beavers' first 32 points, but Tufts got 10 points from Savage and a three-pointer at the buzzer from Feldman to take a 41-40 lead at the break.

Palleschi and junior Ben Engvall (Barrington, R.I.) drilled back-to-back three-pointers to give Tufts its biggest lead of the night at 51-45 just over three minutes into the second half, but Rice scored five points during an 11-0 run that pushed Babson back in front 56-51 with 13:11 to go.

The Jumbos closed the deficit to three on a pair of free throws by Feldman at the 10:40 mark, but the Green and White responded with eight quick points, including a transition dunk by Comenale to extended the margin back to 66-58 with 8:31 to play. Flannery buried a fade away three-pointer from the left wing with just under six minutes to go, and Rice and Comenale followed with back-to-back triples to make it 77-64 with 4:17 remaining.

The Beavers shot 47.7 percent from the floor and outscored Tufts 42-30 in the paint. They also outscored the visitors 19-8 at the free throw line.

The Jumbos shot 44.3 percent on the night and finished with a 36-2 edge in bench points.

Babson will host Keene State (22-9), which upset No. 2 Christopher Newport, 68-64, on Saturday at 7 p.m.

GAME NOTES
•    Friday's win was the 100th over the last four years for Babson's senior class of Flannery, Nelsen, Rice, David Stauffer (York, Pa.), Sam Bohmiller (Franklin, Mass.) and Matthew Droney (Canton, Mass.).
•    The Beavers are now 8-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games at home, which includes seven consecutive wins over the last three years.
•    Flannery, who has put up 20 or more points in seven straight games, is now 15th in Division III history in scoring with 2,544 points.
•    Babson is now 18-1 this season at home and 7-1 on the year when trailing at halftime.

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