SPRINGFIELD, Mass.—The second-seeded Babson College men's basketball team built a 10-point second-half lead but was unable to hold on as it fell to third-seeded MIT, 70-61, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament semifinal on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena.
Babson, which won the Division III national championship last year, will not get a chance to defend its title after closing the season at 15-11. No. 25 MIT (21-5), which has won three straight games, advances to the NEWMAC title game for the seventh time in nine years.
Senior Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, while junior Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) added 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Senior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) chipped in with 10 points for the Beavers.
Junior A.J. Jurko (Weston, Fla.) scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half and also dished out 11 assists to pace the Engineers. Classmate Tim Roberts (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) finished with 15 points and nine boards, while first-year Ian Hinkley (Raleigh, N.C.) came off the bench to score 11 points and block three shots.
The Green and White made eight of its first 13 shots and built a 23-15 lead on a three-point play by senior Brian Kelley (Potomac, Md.) with 8:40 to go in the first half. Hinkley hit a pair of three-pointers as part of a 9-0 MIT run, but the Beavers followed with an 11-5 spurt that included five points from Johnson and four from Jacks to go back in front 36-30 at the break.
Jacks and Johnson opened the second half with back-to-back hoops as Babson extended the lead, its biggest of the game, to 40-30 with 17:58 remaining. The momentum was short-lived though, as the Beavers connected on just one field goal over the next five minutes and watched the Engineers use a 15-2 run to take a three-point lead with 12:25 to go.
Sophomore Julian Alexis (Somerville, N.J.) and Kelley drained back-to-back triples to put the Green and White back in front 52-51 at the 8:24 mark. Jurko converted a layup on the ensuing possession and scored 10 of the next 14 points to give MIT a 65-59 advantage with 1:58 to play. Johnson scored to cut the Babson deficit to four, but Hinkley buried his third triple of the afternoon with 1:10 left to dash the Beavers' comeback hopes.
The Beavers shot just 39.3 in the second half, which included a 2-of-9 effort from beyond the arc. The Engineers shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) after halftime and 54 percent for the game.
MIT will take on fourth-seeded WPI in the NEWMAC Tournament final on Sunday at 1 p.m.
• The Beavers are 54-23 all-time against MIT but just 3-5 against the Engineers in eight conference tournament matchups.
• Babson finished with season lows in total rebounds (22), defensive rebounds (16) and for the second game in row attempted just three free throws.
• Saturday's loss marked just the fourth time this season that an opponent shot better than 50 percent against the Beavers.
• Prior to Saturday, Babson had scored at least 62 points in 87 consecutive games going back to its 69-47 national semifinal loss to Augustana in 2015.