BABSON PARK, Mass.—Sophomores Kahleb Downing (Middletown, Conn.) and Colin McNamara (Arlington, Mass.) both scored 20 points to lead fifth-seeded WPI to a 70-66 win over fourth-seeded Babson College in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament quarterfinal inside Staake Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Babson sees its season conclude at 15-11, while WPI improves to 18-8 overall and advances to the NEWMAC semifinals for the 16th year in a row where it will face top-seeded and seventh-ranked MIT on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Junior Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.) scored 14 points and blocked three shots, classmate Jack Coolahan (Newtown, Pa.) added 12 points and six rebounds, and senior Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) chipped in with 10 points and six boards for the Beavers. Coolahan finished with three steals and sophomore Matt Pattyson (Doylestown, Pa.) led the squad with three assists.
McNamara went 10-of-17 from the floor and added game highs of five assists and four steals for the Engineers. Downing was 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-9 from three-point range, while sophomores Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, Mass.) and Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, Mass.) chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
McNamara led all scorers with 12 points and the teams went to the locker room deadlocked at 34-34 after a first half that featured six ties and eight lead changes. WPI scored on four of its first five possessions to open the second half and took a 43-40 lead on a jumper by McNamara, only to see Oftring and Coolahan drill back-to-back three-pointers to put the hosts back in front 46-43 with 16:13 to go.
Downing and Wheeler answered right back with triples of their own, and McNamara followed up another three-pointer by Wheeler with a bucket to help the Engineers regain a 56-51 advantage with 11 minutes to play. The Green and White answered back though, getting consecutive hoops from Johnson and first-year Colin Bradanese (Billerica, Mass.) and trifectas from Pattyson and junior Julian Alexis (Somerville, N.J.) as part of a 10-0 run to match its biggest lead of the game at 61-56 with 7:30 remaining.
WPI responded with eight straight points, which included a pair of three-pointers by Downing, before a layup by Johnson tied the game again at 64-64 with 3:26 to play. McNamara converted a driving layup to put the Engineers in front for good on the ensuing possession, and then hit a pull up jumper late in the shot clock to stretch the margin to four with 2:09 left. Following a timeout, Babson committed a turnover and Wheeler gave the visitors a 70-64 edge with 66 seconds to play.
Johnson scored with 54 seconds to go, but the Beavers were unable to get any closer as they missed a trio of three-pointers in the final 20 seconds.
The Beavers shot 44.1 percent from the floor but were just 9-of-29 (31 percent) from beyond the arc. WPI shot 49.1 percent for the game and 55.6 percent in the second half. The Engineers turned 18 Babson turnovers into 23 points.
The game featured 11 ties and 19 lead changes with no team leading by more than five prior to Wheeler's bucket with 1:06 remaining.
• The Beavers are now 49-32 all-time against WPI and the teams have split eight postseason meetings.
• The Engineers have won their last three NEWMAC Tournament games against Babson by a total of just seven points.
• Babson, which last failed to reach the conference semifinals in 2011, finished the year with a 3-5 record in games decided by five points or less.
• Prior to Tuesday's loss, the Beavers had won 13-of-14 postseason games inside Staake Gymnasium since 2015.