Babson Park, MA --- Sophomores Kahleb Downing (Middletown, CT) and Colin McNamara (Arlington, MA) each scored 20 points as fifth-seeded WPI knocked off fourth-seeded Babson, 70-66, in the opening round of the 2019 NEWMAC Men's Basketball Championship Tuesday night in Staake Gymnasium.
The Engineers (18-8), who will be making their 16th consecutive appearance in the semifinal round, head to top-seeded and nationally-ranked MIT on Thursday. The Beavers, meanwhile, conclude the campaign with a 15-11 ledger.
Trailing 56-51 with just under 11 minutes to go, Babson went on a 10-0 run that featured 3-pointers by sophomore Matt Pattyson (Doylestown, PA) and junior Julian Alexis (Somersville, NJ). Downing responded for the Engineers by bookending an 8-0 uprising with a pair of 3-pointers. Freshman Colin Bradanese (Billerica, MA) converted the back end of a pair of free throws and senior Brandon Johnson (Mount Vernon, NY) hit a layup to tie the game at 64-64.
McNamara then used a layup to setup a decisive 6-0 run and give the Crimson and Gray the final lead of the night with 3:08 to play. He followed with a jumper and sophomore Dakota Wheeler (Easthampton, MA) added a layup for the 70-64 advantage. Johnson accounted for a layup with under a minute remaining. From there, all four field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, including three by the Beavers.
McNamara also led the way with five assists and four steals. Wheeler finished with 12 points and sophomore Garrett Stephenson (Townsend, MA) totaled 10. Classmate Reid Walker (Lithia, FL) notched a team-best five rebounds, followed by junior Jake Wisniewski (West Brookfield, MA), Stephenson and Wheeler with four each.
Junior Frank Oftring (North Attleboro, MA) posted 14 points to go with 12 from classmate Jack Coolahan (Newtown, PA), and 10 from Johnson. Payson added three assists as Coolahan (three steals) and Johnson recorded six rebounds apiece.
In addition to 19 lead changes and 11 ties, the game was played in a 12-point window. WPI had the largest advantage of six with 66 seconds left in the game while Babson enjoyed a five-point lead with 1:21 left in the first half.
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