Babson Knocks Out Men’s Basketball

Ridley Eastland-Fruit, Sports Editor

31-1. The 2016-17 Whitman men’s basketball team’s season garnered national attention, shattered school records, and brought sporting prestige to the small, rural liberal arts campus. It is the lonely “1” in the record, however, that extinguished hopes of even higher heights on Friday night.

No. 3 Babson conquered the top-ranked Blues from below in front of nearly 1,700 in Salem, Virginia in a comeback victory that set the stage for the Beavers to claim the national title over Augustina the following evening.

In the Final Four showdown, Whitman demonstrated its prowess early, marching off to a dramatic 45-20 lead with 7:33 remaining in the first half. Babson responded swiftly and brutally, however, running 27-6 over the remainder of the first period to close the Blues’ lead to 51-47.

Whitman, well-versed in dramatic comebacks of their own, did not seem concerned when Babson took and maintained a comfortable lead in the second half. Turning on the heat late, the Blues fought to close the gap, coming in striking distance of the leaders repeatedly. Babson’s defense, however, proved too strong. 85-91 final. Game over. Season over.

Legacy not over, however, according to Tim Howell, a National Association of Basketball Coaches DIII All-American. Though disappointed by the loss, with many of the team’s core players returning next year, the squad sees no reason to call this season an anomaly.

“We’re going to be sharper. We’re going to be quicker. We’re going to be better. We’re going to be closer than ever. We’re going to be back,” Howell said of next year in the post-game press conference.

After spring break, the team will rejoin its NWC title, NWC Championship, and NCAA Sectional Champion trophies in Walla Walla as it reflects on a season of firsts and, hopefully, not lasts.