Pat Halloran '08
Bryan Wholey '08
Eric Shone '08
LEWISTON, Maine -- It seemed that nothing could stop the Middlebury College men's basketball team on Saturday.
The visiting Panthers shot 57.1 percent from the field, including 64.3% from behind the three-point arc, while snapping Bates College's six-game win streak with a 92-71 NESCAC victory at Alumni Gymnasium. It was the highest point total allowed by Bates since Feb. 28, 2004.
The Panthers matched their highest win total in program history with victory No. 17, which they last accomplished in 1975. They now stand at 17-5 overall, 5-2 in conference play.
Bates dropped to 15-6 overall, 4-3 in NESCAC play.
Middlebury received 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from Aaron Smith, and 23 more from first-year guard Ashton Coghlan, who shot 8-for-11, including 5-6 behind the arc. Senior Andrew Harris added 15 points, shooting 6-for-9. With Coghlan and Harris both coming off the bench for the Panthers, Middlebury had a 46-5 advantage in bench points for the game.
Bryan Wholey led four Bobcats in double figures with 20 points. Wholey and the Bobcats went cold for most of the game, shooting only 31.3% from the floor, including 4-of-26 (15.4%) behind the arc. They stayed in the game largely at the free throw line, hitting 27 of 31 shots, including 10-11 from Wholey.
First-year forward Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) added 16 points, with sophomore Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) and senior Pat Halloran (Plymouth, N.H.) adding 13 apiece.
Emphasizing a frantic offensive tempo, Middlebury got out to a 49-37 lead by halftime while hitting 18 of 31 shots. Bates stayed under 20 percent shooting for much of the first half before finishing the period at 30.8%. A remarkable 27 fouls were whistled in the first half, 16 of them on Middlebury.
The half ended ominously for Bates, as Andrew Locke blocked a layup by Wholey, and Coghlan scooped up the rebound and hit a buzzer-beating shot near halfcourt.
If the Bobcats figured the Panthers would cool off in the second half, they were disappointed. A pair of free throws and a three by Halloran cut the Middlebury lead to 51-44 early in the second half, but the Panthers then ripped off 10 straight points, including a step-back three on the right wing by Coghlan followed by another Coghlan three from the left corner that made it 61-44 with 14:52 to play.
An energized Bates squad didn't let up, responding with a 12-1 run, including seven points by Wholey, to scratch their way back. A Wholey steal led to a putback by sophomore Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) to bring Bates within five, at 62-57, with 11:10 to play.
Coghlan again galvanized the Panthers, as he hit a layup, and followed hoops by Ben Rudin and Aaron Smith with his fourth 3-pointer to bump the lead back to 12 with 9:15 to go.
A three by Ellis cut it to 77-69 with 4:16 left, but a Smith low-post jumper and Coghlan's final three were the game-ending daggers, making it 82-69 with 2:20 left. Middlebury outscored Bates 15-2 over the final four minutes, expanding the lead to a game-high 21 before the final horn sounded.
Bates travels to UMaine-Farmington for a non-league game on Tuesday night at 7.
It was the final regular-season home game for senior captains Wholey, Halloran and Eric Shone (Portland, Maine), who is out for the season with an injury.