Fast Start Not Enough as Men’s Basketball Falls to Babson in NEWMAC Action

Kahleb Downing

WORCESTER – Babson freshman Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, CT) netted 19 of his game-best 25 points in the second half as the Beavers overcame an early 12-0 hole to defeat host WPI, 79-72, in a NEWMAC Men's Basketball showdown Saturday in Harrington Auditorium.

The Green and White improve to 7-6 on the year and 2-0 in conference play. The Engineers, meanwhile, slip to 6-7 and 0-2.

Down by eight just over four minutes elapsed in the second half, Babson went on a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the game. After senior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, NY) hit a layup at 13:02 to get within one, the Beavers benefitted from a turnover and a second chance jumper by Jaworski, who scored the balance of the points in the outburst, to take the 52-51 advantage at 12:44. The game remained within a five-point window, with the Engineers ahead the majority of the time, until the hosts were up by six courtesy of a pair of free throws by freshman Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) at 6:08. Jaworski later leveled the game at 68 with 4:18 to play. With 3:08 left in the game, sophomore Julian Alexis (Somerville, NJ) drilled a 3-pointer to put the Beavers in front for good.

WPI opened the game with four consecutive 3-pointers for the 12-0 lead with 16:22 left in the first half. Junior Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, NY) then put Babson on the board with a layup at 15:33. The Beavers eventually whittled the deficit to a pair (20-18) following a 3-pointer by Comenale with 9:18 remaining. With 1:13 on the clock, Johnson made it a one-point game (37-36); however, senior Chris Rodgers (Franklin, MA) drained his fourth 3-pointer, and 16th point of the half, and freshman Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) followed with a late jumper for the 42-36 advantage at the break. Johnson also finished the first opening stanza with double-digit points (11) to go with seven rebounds.

Johnson (17 points, 11 rebounds) and senior Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, MD) (10 points, 12 rebounds) each handed in double-doubles while Comenale ended the game with 12 points. Alexis led the bench with seven points and two rebounds.

Rodgers ended up with 23 points followed by Stephenson and Wheeler with 12 and 10, respectively. Freshman Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) corralled 11 rebounds in the effort. Freshman Kahleb Downing (Middleton, CT) chipped in with a new career-best of seven rebounds, to go with nine points, four assists and three steals.

The Engineers bench enjoyed a 25-14 margin while the squad scored all four fastbreak points and had the 14-13 edge in points off turnovers. Babson was slightly better with second chance points (13-11) while both teams netted 22 in the paint.

WPI heads to Wheaton for a 6pm start and Babson hosts Coast Guard at 7pm on Wednesday.