Fourth-ranked Babson Edges Johns Hopkins, 49-47, in NCAA Sweet 16
BABSON PARK, MA - The fourth-ranked Babson College men's basketball team held 15th-ranked Johns Hopkins to just 17 second-half points and the host Beavers survived 49-47 when Blue Jay senior Jimmy Hammer's last-second three-point attempt hit the front of the rim in the NCAA Sweet 16 Friday night. Babson advances to the NCAA Quarterfinals, where it will meet Trinity (CT) on Saturday night for a spot in the final four.
Johns Hopkins led 30-25 at the half, but the defense for both teams stepped up in the second half and neither team could establish a flow offensively. Babson, which trailed for virtually the entire first half, took its first lead of the second half at 34-33 with 11 minutes remaining, only to see Hammer hit back-to-back threes to give the Blue Jays a 39-34 lead.
Joey Flannery tipped in a missed David Mack layup and then hit from downtown to tie the game at 39-all. Junior Matt Billups put Hopkins back on top with one of two free throws, but a Flannery bucket on the other end gave the home team its first lead since the 5:21-mark in the first half. Hammer swung the lead back to the Blue Jays with a pair of shots from the line, and senior George Bugarinovic pushed the lead to two with 4:15 to play as he hit one-of-two from the line.
Three ties down the stretch, the last at 47-47 after a Ryan Curran layup for the Blue Jays with 2:03 to play, set the stage for a frantic final two minutes. A pair of Flannery free throws with 1:50 to play gave Babson the 49-47 lead, but Hopkins couldn't tie or pull even down the stretch as Hammer missed a pair of three-pointers, including the one at the end, and junior Gene Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:40 on the clock.
Hopkins jumped out to a 15-6 lead, on the strength of three triples from Hammer. Coming out of the under-16 media timeout, Babson strung together a 15-5 run to go ahead, 20-21, on two Flannery free throws. Curran put the Blue Jays back on top with a three-pointer with 7:16 to play in the half, but back-to-back layups by Charlie Rice and Flannery gave the Beavers a 25-23 lead. Hopkins would close the half on a 7-0 run with a three from Hammer and buckets by Bugarinovic and Curran.
Hopkins, which ends one of the great seasons in school history with a 25-5 record, was led by Hammer, who scored 20 points and hit 6-of-13 from three-point range in the final game of his career. Hammer's six threes are the most by a Blue Jay in an NCAA Tournament game and are two shy of the school record. Curran added 11 points and Bugarinovic had nine while Billups had three blocks and six rebounds. Flannery scored a game-high 21 points and Wickey added 10 for Babson (28-2), which hit just 1-of-9 from three-point range, but was 12-of-14 from the free throw line in securing its spot in the quarterfinals.
The loss ends the careers of Bugarinovic, Hammer, Luke Chambers and Omar Randall. The quartet led the Blue Jays to 73 wins, a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, the 2014 Centennial Conference Tournament title and the 2015 Centennial Conference regular season title in their career.