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Men's basketball comes back to shock Polar Bears, 65-62

Chris Wilson '10 hit for 20 points for the third time this season, including the game-winning shot with under 10 seconds remaining.

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- The Bates College men's basketball team scored the final seven points of the game, rallying from a four-point deficit with 24 seconds left to take a 65-62 victory over Bowdoin in the regular season finale for both squads on Saturday.

The win improves Bates to 17-7 (5-4 NESCAC), earning them the fifth seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. Bowdoin falls to 19-5 (6-3 NESCAC) and will host Bates in a rematch next Saturday, February 23 in the first-round of the tournament at 4 p.m.

Bowdoin came out of the gates red-hot, using a 24-8 surge over a seven-minute strech to open up a 16-point lead, 33-17. Andrew Hippert scored 13 points in the opening half to key the run, but Bates was able to trim the lead to 10 points at intermission, 40-30.

Bates chipped away at the lead over the course of the second half, holding the Polar Bears to just six points in the first 10 minutes of the period. An 11-2 burst by the Bobcats cut the Bowdoin lead to two points, 46-44, on a layin by first-year Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine) with 9:53 remaining and Bates took the lead moments later on a three-pointer from sophomore Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine), 50-48 with 8:29 left.

Bowdoin quickly tied the game on a jumper from Hippert and regained the lead on a Mike Hauser jump shot with 5:30 to go. The Polar Bears maintained the lead with under a minute to play and when Tim Lane netted a pair of free-throws with 24 seconds left, Bowdoin held a 62-58 lead.

Bates pushed the ball downcourt and sophomore Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) banked home a lay-in and was fouled with 16 seconds remaining. The ensuing free-throw cut the lead to 62-61. On the inbounds pass, Hippert was called for traveling, setting up the Bobcats for the final shot. Wilson, who led all scorers with 20 points, drove to the hoop and nailed a running jumper from the right side with under 10 seconds to go. Hippert's last chance three-pointer at the buzzer was blocked as the Bobcats hung on to the victory.

Wilson hit four three-pointers in the game to lead the Bobcats while senior Bryan Wholey (Marshfield, Mass.) posted 13. Senior Pat Halloran (Plymouth, N.H.) finished with 10 points for Bates. Gallant led the Bobcats in rebounds with eight, in addition to seven points, while Wirth contributed eight points and six rebounds.

On senior day for Bowdoin, Jordan Fliegel scored a team-high 17 while Hippert finished with 15.

A total of 40 fouls was called in the game, as Bates went 16-20 from the free-throw line and Bowdoin 13-18.

Bates, which picked up a 66-65 win over the Polar Bears on December 1, sweeps the season series and earns the CBB Championship with the win. But the Bobcats must return to Morrell Gymnasium next weekend for the opening round of the conference tournament. The squads have faced each other in the NESCAC quarterfinals twice before, with Bates winning 87-52 in Brunswick in 2004 and the Bobcats prevailing 67-51 in Lewiston in 2006.

BOX SCORE: Bates 65, Bowdoin 62