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Last-second tipin lifts men's hoops over Trinity, 54-53

Neil Creahan '10 scored four key points late in the first half. (Photos by Joe Gromelski)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Junior Marshall Hatch's (Chicago, Ill.) tip-in beat the final buzzer to lift the Bates College men's basketball team to a 54-53 victory over NESCAC rival Trinity College on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium.

Trinity (7-13, 3-4 NESCAC) had gone ahead 53-52 on Paul Rowe's layup with 8 seconds left. Rowe was fouled on the play, but he missed the ensuing free throw. Bates junior Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) rebounded and was harassed going up the floor until he passed ahead to senior Ben Thayer (Gorham, Maine), who let go a three-point attempt from the left wing. The shot caromed off to the right, where Hatch, a 6-foot-0 junior guard, reached it and tipped it softly over the rim for the game-winner and his only two points of the game.

It was the Bobcats' (12-10, 3-5 NESCAC) first win over the Bantams since Feb. 12, 2005, a span of four games.

Bates sophomore Nick Schmiemann (Weymouth, Mass.) received his first start and scored a career-high 16 points, while Wilson added 15. Junior Jimmy O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) added a team-high 6 rebounds with 8 points for Bates, including two big buckets in the final 1:19 of the game.

Chris Wilson '10 drives past Trinity's Brian Ford.

Aaron Westbrooks scored a team-high 11 points with a game-high 7 rebounds for Trinity, and Rowe added 10 points. Timothy Dunn pitched in with 6 points and 6 rebounds, and Ian Fels collected 7 points and 5 assists.

After Bates' early 4-2 lead, Trinity owned a single-digit lead throughout the remainder of the first half. A pair of free throws by Westbrooks gave the Bantams a 30-23 edge with 1:32 left in the period, but Bates junior Neil Creahan's (Hingham, Mass.) two from the line and jumper in the lane in the final 75 seconds of the half closed the gap to 30-27 at intermission.

Bates started the second half with an 8-2 run, starting with five points to open the stanza by Schmiemann, and capped by a pair of free throws by senior Scott Place (Bridgewater, Mass.) for a 35-32 lead. The teams would tie up the score three times and swap leads six times over the final 14 minutes, with the Bantams mustering the greatest lead the rest of the way, four points, at 49-45 with 4:13 to go, on a layup by Fels. Schmiemann answered with a three-point play out of a Bates timeout, and after Westbrooks made it 51-48 with a individual move and a layup, O'Keefe hit a 14-foot jumper on a feed by Place with 1:19 to go, then put the Bobcats back on top with 27 seconds to go by rebounding a Wilson miss and hitting the putback layup.

Trinity called timeout with 19 seconds to go, and Rowe followed the break with a strong drive down the right lane, hitting the layup despite getting fouled by Thayer. But his ensuing missed free throw instigated Bates' final possession and Hatch's game-winning tipin.

Bates will play at Gordon College in a non-league game on Thursday at 7 p.m. before playing in its regular-season finale at home against Tufts on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m.

STATS: Bates 54, Trinity 53