BABSON PARK, Mass. – It looked as though Amherst College men's basketball, was headed for their fourth victory over Babson College in the last three years, but the Mammoths were called for a foul on a three-point heave and Babson sophomore Shyeim Ulrickson knocked down three free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining to help Babson defeat Amherst, 72-71, in non-conference action on Thursday night at Staake Gymnasium.
As expected, it was another tightly contested affair between the No. 21 Mammoths and the defending national champions, two teams that have played to double overtime twice since 2015 and also met in the NCAA tournament that season.
The defeat halts Amherst's perfect start to the season, as the Mammoths fall to 5-1 on the year, while Babson improves to 5-4.
Senior Michael Riopel finished with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the Mammoths, who had to shake off a slow start to climb back into the game by halftime. Classmate Johnny McCarthy and first-year Fru Che both scored 12 points apiece in the loss.
Babson senior Nick Comenale paced four players in double figures with 15 points and eight rebounds, while junior Brandon Johnson finished with 14 points and seven boards. Ulrickson had 13 points to go along with career highs of eight assists and seven rebounds, and first-year Andrew Jaworski chipped in with 12 points for the Beavers.
The Green and White used a 14-2 run that included three-pointers from Ulrickson, Comenale and sophomore Frank Oftring to build a 23-11 advantage less than 10 minutes into the contest. Amherst tied the game at 32-all thanks to a 15-5 spurt, but the Beavers outscored the Mammoths 12-4 over the final four minutes of the half to take a 44-36 lead into the locker room.
Babson's biggest margin of the second half came at 48-38 following a Johnson layup with 17:09 remaining.
Riopel knocked down three-pointers on four straight possessions though, as Amherst took its first lead since early in the first half at 53-51 with 13:44 left. The momentum was short-lived as a four-point play by Jaworski and a three-point play by Oftring were part of a nine-point run that gave the Beavers a 60-53 lead with 12:10 to go.
The Mammoths used an 11-2 run to go back in front 64-62 on a bucket by Eric Sellew '20 at the 4:31 mark. The lead changed hands five times over the next three minutes as Johnson put the Green and White up 69-68 with 2:31 to go. Following empty trips at both ends, first-year Tim McCarthy buried a deep triple from the right wing to push Amherst ahead 71-69 with 35.9 seconds left.
Ulrickson grabbed an offensive rebound of a missed shot by senior Bradley Jacks with 23 seconds to go and then chased down an errant pass before being fouled on a running three-point attempt just before time expired. He calmly stepped to the line and drilled all three shots at the charity stripe to seal the victory.
Amherst holds a 24-14 record in the all-time series against the Beavers, but Babson picked up their first home win over the Mammoths since 2010.
Babson returns to action on December 29 when it travels to Bates at 1 p.m.
Amherst is on the road again on Saturday afternoon when they will head to Newton to face Lasell at 3:00 PM.