HARTFORD, Conn.—Sophomore Seth Thomas (Norwich, Conn.) scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half as Eastern Connecticut State University rallied from a 19-point deficit to edge 12th-ranked Babson College, 77-76, in the opening round of the Trinity Holiday Classic on Monday night inside Ray Oosting Gymnasium.
Babson, which was seeking the first 10-0 start in program history, slips to 9-1 with its first loss, while Eastern Connecticut State improves to 4-5 overall.
Senior Jack Coolahan (Newtown, Pa.) poured in 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half and added five rebounds and four steals to lead the Beavers. Junior Crew Ainge (Wellesley, Mass.) finished with 17 points and three assists, while sophomore Colin Bradanese (Billerica, Mass.) chipped in with 14 points and six boards in the loss.
Thomas added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Warriors, who put four players in double figures. Senior Jake Collagan (Wethersfield, Conn.) scored 17 points and dished out a game-high six assists, junior Cory Muckle (Westbrook, Conn.) finished with 13 points and sophomore Sharown Fowler (Springfield, Mass.) came off the bench to put up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Coolahan scored 12 points in the opening five minutes of the contest and back-to-back three-pointers by junior Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) and Ainge staked the Green and White to a 20-9 lead with 13:11 to play in the first half. Coolahan made it 25-11 with another triple and first-year Andrew Kirkpatrick (Winnetka, Ill.) keyed a 7-0 spurt with five points to give the Beavers their largest lead of the game at 36-17 with 8:06 to go until halftime.
Eastern Connecticut State pulled within 12 at the break and then scored on its first four possessions of the second half to cut its deficit to 45-40 on a layup by Muckle with 17:59 to go. The Green and White extended its advantage back to nine on a layup by Bradanese at the 15:59 mark, but the Warriors outscored the Beavers 29-11 over the next 10-plus minutes to take their largest lead of the night at 73-64 on a bucket by Thomas with 6:02 remaining.
Ainge and Jaworski combined for eight points over the next four possessions to pull Babson back within 75-72 at the 3:57 mark, and Ainge scored again to make it 75-74 with 2:06 left. Ainge followed up a hoop by Thomas to again cut the margin to one with 39 seconds left, and Bradanese grabbed the miss of a layup by sophomore Tyreice Woods (Hartford, Conn.) with five ticks left to give the Green and White one final possession. Unfortunately, Coolahan's pull-up jumper from the left elbow went in-and-out at the buzzer.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday as Babson faces Regis in the consolation game at 12 p.m., while Eastern Connecticut State will take on Trinity in the 2 p.m. tournament final.
• The Beavers 9-10 all-time against Eastern Connecticut and Monday's meeting was the first between the programs since 1996.
• Babson was one of 10 unbeaten teams in Division III entering the night.
• The Beavers, who hit nine three-pointers against the Warriors, have made at least eight triples in seven consecutive games.
• Babson played without senior Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, Mass.), who leads the team in scoring and rebounding.