WALTHAM, Mass.—Senior Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) poured in a season-high 42 points to pace four players in double figures as second-ranked Babson College defeated third-ranked Tufts University, 91-78, to capture its third New England Big 4 Challenge championship in the last four years on Saturday afternoon at Red Auerbach Arena.
With the win, Babson is now 9-0, while Tufts drops to 6-1 on the year.
Flannery, who earned Big 4 Challenge Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors for the third time, knocked down a career-high seven three-pointers and went 15-of-31 from the floor while also grabbing nine rebounds for the Beavers. Senior Isaiah Nelsen (North Andover, Mass.), who was named to the all-tournament team, recorded his second double-double of the year with 20 points and 13 boards, while junior Nick Comenale (New York Mills, N.Y.) added 14 points and nine rebounds. Classmate Bradley Jacks (Fort Washington, Md.) finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high five assists in the victory.
Senior Tom Palleschi (Haverhill, Mass.) finished with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Jumbos. Juinor Vincent Pace (Bridgewater, N.J.) added 13 points and nine boards, while classmate Ben Engvall (Barrington, R.I.) scored 11 points in the loss.
Leading by one less than three minutes into the contest, the Green and White ripped off a 13-0 run that included six points from Nelsen to forge a 21-8 edge. Tufts cut its deficit to 40-35 on a pair of free throws by Palleschi with 2:14 to go in the period, but Flannery responded with five straight points to push the lead back to seven. Comenale drained a pair of free throws and Nelsen converted a layup with 22 seconds to go to extend the Beavers' advantage to 49-40 at the break.
The Jumbos hit three early triples to open the second half and pulled within 54-51 on an Engvall trifecta at the 17:18 mark. A jumper in the paint by Palleschi made it 60-57, but Babson countered with seven consecutive points to push its lead back to 67-57 with 12:31 to play.
Tufts pulled as close as seven on two free throws by first-year Eric Savage (South Brunswick, N.J.) with 9:42 left, but Flannery hit a driving layup and a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions, and followed it up with two free throws to give the Beavers their biggest lead of the afternoon at 77-63 with 8:30 to go in the contest. The Jumbos pulled within eight on two occasions, but Nelsen answered with baskets both times, the second coming on of his four offensive rebounds, to make it 84-74 with 3:00 remaining.
Babson shot 46.4 percent (32-of-69) from the floor and made seven of its nine three-point field goals in the first half. The Green and White also finished with a 49-39 edge on the glass.
Tufts shot 40.5 percent (30-of-74) and were just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. The Jumbos, who scored 21 second-chance points, outscored the Beavers 42-30 in the paint.
Babson returns to action on Thursday when it visits top-ranked Amherst at 7 p.m., while Tufts hosts UMass Boston on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
• The Beavers are now 13-27 all-time against Tufts and have won two of the last three meetings in the series.
• Babson has won 25 consecutive Saturday games.
• Flannery, who finished one point shy of his career high set during the 2013-14 campaign, moved into ninth place on the program's all-time list with 598 rebounds.
• The Beavers are now 3-0 this season against NESCAC opponents with their other wins coming against Bowdoin and Bates.