No. 3 Men's Basketball Pulls Away From Keene State, 102-79, to Reach Division III Final Four

No. 3 Men's Basketball Pulls Away From Keene State, 102-79, to Reach Division III Final Four

BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) scored 29 points and classmate Charlie Rice (Barnstable, Mass.) added a career-high 20 as third-ranked Babson College defeated visiting Keene State College, 102-79, in a NCAA Tournament National Quarterfinal on Saturday night at Staake Gymnasium.

With the win, Babson (29-2) advances to its second Division III Final Four in the last three years, while Keene State sees its season come to a close at 22-10.

Flannery went 11-of-15 from the floor, dished out five assists and collected three steals, while Rice connected on 8-of-10 shots and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds for the Beavers. Junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) scored 17 points, senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) added 14 on 6-of-8 shooting and junior Chris Lowry (Union, Conn.) contributed eight of his career-high 10 points in the second half.

Sophomore Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) led four players in double figures with 21 points for the Owls. Senior Lucas Hammel (Methuen, Mass.) finished with 17 points, classmate Jeff Lunn (Nashua, N.H.) added 14 on 7-of-9 shooting and fellow senior Matt Ozzella (Medway, Mass.) recorded his 15th double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Green and White shot 61.3 percent in the first half and got nine points from Rice during an 12-4 run to build a 38-28 lead with 6:22 to go until halftime. Keene State scored on nine of its next 10 possessions, but two three-pointers by Comenale and another triple by Flannery kept the Beavers in front 51-46 at the break.

Babson's three-point barrage continued to open the second half as Comenale drained three more and Lowry knocked down the first of his two on the night to extended the lead to 63-51 with 15:37 to play. The Owls chipped away and twice pulled within seven, the last time coming on a layup by Lunn with 11:03 remaining, before the Green and White pulled away for good with an 21-6 burst.

Rice contributed nine points during the run, Lowry connected on another triple and Flannery converted a three-point play to make it 90-68 with 4:24 to go. Senior David Stauffer's (York, Pa.) three-point play extended the lead to 98-75 with 1:47 left, and junior Brian Kelley (Potomac, Md.) gave the Green and White its biggest lead of the night with two free throws in the closing seconds.

The Beavers shot 62.9 percent overall and went 13-of-29 from beyond the arc (44.8 percent). They also outscored Keene State 48-42 in the paint.

The Owls, who shot 58.1 percent in the first half and 48.3 percent for the game, held a slim 32-30 edge on the glass.

Babson will take on top-ranked and unbeaten Whitman (31-0) in the first of two national semifinal contests next Friday at 5 p.m. in Salem, Va.

GAME NOTES
•    Babson is 2-1 all-time against Keene State and 1-1 against the Owls in the NCAA Tournament.
•    The Beavers' 29 wins this season matches a school record set during the 2014-15 campaign.
•    Flannery, who is averaging 30.0 points in the NCAA Tournament, shattered his own single-season record for points in a season (703), and is now the active Division III scoring leader with 2,573 points.
•    Babson, which finished the year with a 19-1 record at home, has won 37 straight Saturday games going back to the start of the 2014-15 season.

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