BABSON PARK, Mass.—Juniors Colin Bradanese (Billerica, Mass.) and James Welch (Needham, Mass.) both finished with 22 points to help Babson College defeat visiting New England College, 80-69, in men's basketball action on Saturday night inside Staake Gymnasium.
With the win, Babson opens the year at 1-0, while New England College starts 0-1.
Bradanese went 10-of-15 from the floor and added four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals for the Beavers. Welch was 8-of-11 shooting on the way to scoring a new career high, and also tied for team-high honors with six boards in the win. Sophomore Aaron Gao (Bridgewater, N.J.) chipped in with a career-high 16 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Junior Jamal Allen (Dorchester, Mass.) scored a game-high 25 points and senior Calvin Cheek (Mattapan, Mass.) contributed 21 points, eight rebounds, eight steals and four assists to lead the Pilgrims.
Allen made his first six shots and scored 15 points to help New England College build a 19-16 eight minutes into the contest. Cheek knocked down a triple to extend the margin to 24-20 at the 9:59 mark before Babson responded with a 17-3 burst that included five points apiece from Gao and senior Matt Pattyson (Doylestown, Pa.) to go in front 37-27 with 3:05 to go in the opening half.
Down 41-35 at the break, the Pilgrims got as close as four less than three minutes into the second half only to see the Beavers score on four consecutive possessions to push their advantage back to 51-39 with 14:36 to play. Senior Kareem Octavien (Cambridge, Mass.) hit two free throws to cut the New England College deficit to 53-44 at the 11:41 mark, but senior Andrew Jaworski (Tolland, Conn.) answered with two foul shots of his own and Welch buried a trio of three-pointers over the next four possessions to help Babson open its biggest lead of the night at 64-46 with 7:55 remaining.
New England College made one final push getting as close as eight on two free throws by sophomore Michael Tavilla (Winchester, Mass.) with 2:27 left, but Welch knocked down his fifth triple on the ensuing possession and Gao followed with a pair of free throws to make it 78-65 with 1:54 to go.
The Beavers shot 52.6 percent from the floor and outscored the Pilgrims 34-28 in the paint. New England College, which held a 38-32 edge on the glass, shot just 40.3 percent in the loss.
The teams will conclude their two-game series on Sunday afternoon in Henniker, N.H. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
• Babson is 6-1 all-time against New England College although Saturday's contest was the first between the teams since 1997.
• The Beavers are 16-2 going back to the start of last season when shooting at least 45 percent from the floor.
• Babson has opened the season with a win in 12 of the last 13 seasons going back to 2008.