BABSON PARK, Mass. - Feb. 20, 2008- Babson College used an 8-1 run to build a five-point lead late in regulation and then hit six straight free throws in the final 30 seconds to claim a 57-51 victory over visiting Springfield College in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men’s basketball contest at Staake Gymnasium on Wednesday night. With the win, the Beavers improved to 9-14 overall and 6-5 in the conference, while the loss dropped the Pride’s record to 10-13 overall and 5-6 in the NEWMAC.
Junior Zach Etten (Hollis, N.H.) led Babson with 14 points in the win, while senior tri-captain Kyle McDonald (Wethersfield, Conn.) and senior Greg Bush (East Islip, N.Y.) added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Etten, McDonald, Bush, and senior tri-captain Chris Bradley (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) each finished with four rebounds for the Beavers, and Bush also added a pair of steals.
Springfield was paced by senior co-captain Jamaal Gibbs (Norwalk, Conn.), who finished with 15 points, and junior John Strawson (Torrington, Conn.), who contributed 13 points and six rebounds. First-year Chaz Burrell (Idaho Springs, Colo.) just missed double figures with nine points, and senior co-captain Gregg Daly (Farmington, Conn.) netted seven points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds.
Babson dominated play early on, beginning the game with a 23-9 run and later reaching its largest lead of the game, 26-11, after a three-pointer by McDonald with 6:46 left in the first. However, Springfield closed the period with a 13-2 run, including the final seven points of the session, to trail by only four, 28-24, at the break.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout the second half, with neither team leading by more than four until the final two minutes. Springfield grabbed its first lead of the game after a Daly free throw with 11:16 left to play, and the Pride twice went up by as many as three, including a 40-37 edge after a Strawson freebie with nine minutes remaining.
Babson first-year Matt Zoia (Nashua, N.H.) knocked down his second three-pointer of the game at the eight-minute mark to tie the game at 40-40, but Springfield answered with a jumper by sophomore Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) with 7:23 to go. The Beavers would then embark on an 8-1 run over the next five minutes, highlighted by a huge play from junior Pat Belniak (Sutton, Mass.), who made a move on the low post, drew a foul, and was awarded continuation on the ensuing lay-up to move Babson in front, 43-42 with five minutes left to play. The junior forward then sank the free throw for a two-point lead and, after Strawson hit one of two at the other end, Bush came up with another clutch play when he grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed foul shot and laid it in for a 46-43 cushion with 3:16 left. Zoia followed with a pair of free throws with just over two minutes remaining to cap the run and five the Beavers a 48-43 advantage.
Springfield refused to go quietly, as Gibbs drained a gigantic three-pointer from well beyond the arc to pull this team back to within two, 48-46, with 1:38 on the clock. However, Etten had the answer for Babson, as he knocked down his second trifecta of the game on the next possession, giving Babson a 51-46 cushion with 1:18 remaining. That would force Springfield to foul down the stretch, and McDonald converted 4-of-4 while Etten added two more from the line as Babson held on for the 57-51 victory.