Babson rallies, Augie advances

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Joey Flannery controlled the glass and Babson seized control of the game from Whitman in the second half of Friday's first national semifinal game.
Photo by Dave Hilbert,

The 2017 NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament title game will be a rematch of the 2015 national semifinal matchup between Augustana and Babson.

In the first semifinal, Babson shock off a torrid start by Whitman, erased a 25-point first half deficit and ended the Blues' dreams of a perfect season, 91-85. 

Who will win the men's title game?
Augustana by 10 or more
Augustana by 1-9
Babson by 1-9
Babson by 10 or more

Whitman built a 45-20 lead midway through the first half by shooting 70 percent from the field with Tim Howell leading the way. Babson regrouped and scored the final 14 points of the first half with Nick Comenale scoring eight during that run, cutting the deficit to 51-47 at the break.

In the second half Whitman used its press to generate turnvoers and easy baskets, pushing the lead back to 12 on Howell's layup with 14:12 to play. The Beavers turned the game around with an 21-2 run bookended by a Joey Flannery three pointer and an Isaiah Nelsen jumper. In one key series Nelsen tipped the ball away from a Whitman defender, ran down the floor, caught long pass from Flannery and threw down a two-hand jam, sending the Babson crowd into a frenzy.

Whitman rallied within three on Jack Stewart's three with 1:10 left, but Flannery immediately countered with a layup and Charlie Rice sealed the win for Babson with defensive rebounds and clutch free throws. Recap

Flannery scored 24 points to pass Mike Hoyt of Mount St. Mary for 10th all-time on the Division III scoring list. Comenale notched 22 points and Rice finished with a double-double (19 points, 12 rebounds). Howell scored 23 points and Austin Butler had a double-double for Whitman (12 points, 10 rebounds). Box score

Recap continues below

Augustana's Chrishawn Orange continued his March magic by scoring 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting against Williams in Friday's second national semifinal.
Photo by Dave Hilbert, 

Augustana's balance proved too much for Williams as the Vikings defeated the Ephs 90-79 in a battle of unranked national semifinalists.

Much like the first game between Babson and Whitman, Augustana jumped out to a big lead on hot shooting, going in front 17-2 five minutes into the game on Dylan Sortillo's three-pointer. The Ephs eventually found their footing and pulled within single digits, 42-34, when Daniel Aronowitz banked in a half-court buzzer beater to close the first period.

Williams scored the first 10 points of the second half to erase Augustana's lead completely and briefly go in front 44-42. Chrishawn Orange immediately answered with one of his eight made field goals to pull Augustana even and the two teams battled back and forth for much of the second half.

Augustana finally pulled away with three minutes left when Micah Martin scored off his own miss and Brett Benning canned a three from the corner in front of the Augustana bench, pushing the Vikings' advantage to 78-70. Orange put the game away by running down the shot clock, calmly pulling up inside the arc and splashing a midrange jumper with 71 seconds left.

Orange finished with 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting but he had plenty of help. Four other Vikings scored double figures, including Benning and sophomore guard Nolan Ebels who scored 17 apiece for Augustana (24-8). Daniel Aronowitz paced Williams (23-9) with 29 points, including five 3-pointers. 

Augustana will play Babson on Saturday at 6 PM ET for the national championship on Saturday in a rematch of the 2015 national semifinals won easily by the Vikings, 68-48. Both teams are looking for their first national basketball championship.