Men's Basketball lose to #3 Babson, 92-76, in NCAA First Round

Photo by Monty Rand Photography
Photo by Monty Rand Photography

BABSON PARK, Mass.- The Husson University men's basketball team lost to #3 Babson College, 92-76, in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday night at Staake Gymnasium. 

Babson (26-2), which has won 17 of its last 18 games, won its tournament opener for the third consecutive season. Husson (21-7), which saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end, drops to 0-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Raheem Anderson (Miramar, Fla.) finished with 17 points on 7-of-31 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. Junior Mitch Worcester (Washburn, Maine) also scored 17 points, while seniors Eli Itkin (Pawtucket, R.I.) and Zach Curran (Washington, D.C.) added 12 apiece. Sophomore Justin Martin (Winslow, Maine) blocked nine shots in the loss. The nine blocks are a school record for most blocks in a single game.

Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) scored a game-high 28 points and classmate Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.) finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) scored 12 points and pulled down six boards, while classmate Chris Lowry (Union, Conn.) dished out a game-high six assists for the Beavers. 

There were six ties and 10 lead changes in a first half that saw neither team lead by more than six. Flannery and Nelsen combined for 32 points in the stanza, but the Beavers held only a slim 44-43 edge at the half as Husson shot 47.2 percent from the floor and got eight points apiece off the bench from Curran and senior Alonzo McCain (San Bernadino, Calif.), while Worcester scored eight of the Eagles' final 15 points of the first half.

Babson took command of the game with a 16-4 run over the first 4:28 of the second half. Nelsen scored eight points and Flannery added four as the hosts opened a 60-47 advantage at the 15:34 mark.

Flannery extended the lead to 67-52 on a free throw with 12:53 left before the Eagles countered with a 13-4 burst to cut their deficit to 71-65 with 10:03 to go. Eli Itkin (Pawtucket, R.I.) hit a jumper to pull his squad within the aforementioned six points. Rice made a three-pointer in transition to push the lead back to nine at the 6:52 mark and then made the first of eight straight free throws as part of a 12-0 run that gave Babson its biggest advantage of the night at 90-71 with 3:01 remaining.

This loss will conclude the 32nd consecutive winning season for the Husson University men's basketball team.