Babson Park, MA --- Senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, MA) led all players with 16 points and nine rebounds as top-ranked Babson built a 24-point second-half lead then survived a furious WPI comeback attempt on its way to defeating the visiting Engineers 65-59 in NEWMAC men's basketball action on Wednesday night at Staake Gymnasium.
With its fourth straight win, Babson is now 13-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, while WPI slips to 9-5 overall and 0-3 in the NEWMAC.
Junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, NY finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while classmate Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, MD) contributed 11 points, six boards and two blocks for the Beavers. Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, MA) also added 10 points and four assists in the win.
Junior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists, while classmate Dave Zielinski (Shelton, CT) chipped in with 11 points and two steals for the Engineers, who played without their top two scorers due to injury.
Leading by two with under seven minutes to go in the first half, the Green and White closed the stanza with an 18-2 run. Nelsen scored off a feed from Flannery, Comenale buried a three-pointer and Jacks knocked down a pull-up jumper to make it 29-20 at the 3:46 mark. Flannery converted a three-point play and Nelsen scored the final four points of the period, including a layup at the buzzer off a pass from senior Matthew Droney (Canton, MA) to push the lead to 40-22.
Jacks and Flannery opened the second half with back-to-back buckets, and Comenale followed with consecutive triples to give the Beavers their biggest lead of the night at 50-26 with 16:16 to play. A transition dunk and a three-pointer from Nelsen made it 57-33, and Babson still led 60-38 with 8:07 left after another trifecta by junior Chris Lowry (Woodstock, CT).
WPI wouldn't go quietly, as it responded with a 19-0 run keyed by eight points from Zielinski and five from first-year Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA) to pull within 60-57 with 1:00 remaining. Jacks went 2-of-2 at the line to snap a scoreless stretch of over seven minutes for Babson, and Flannery made three free throws over the final 13 seconds to close out the victory.
Freshman Andreas Bitsos (Athens, Greence) scored all seven of his points and corraled six of his seven rebounds in the second half while sophomore Ryan Foley (Monroe, CT) gave the Crimson and Gray a spark off the bench during the rally.
The Beavers, who did not make a field goal over the final eight minutes, shot a season-low 40.7 percent from the floor and committed 15 turnovers, its most since a win over Lasell back on November 17.
The Engineers, who were limited to just three field goals over the final 11:34 of the first half, shot just 35 percent on the night, although they did finish with a 40-37 edge on the glass.
Both teams return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. as Babson hosts Wheaton, while WPI takes on Emerson.
Majority of Release Courtesy Babson Sports Information