|First-year forward John Squires helped spark Bates' decisive run in the second half.|
LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College men's basketball team went on a 21-4 run midway through the second half to overcome a four-point deficit and defeat NESCAC rival Tufts University 77-65 on Saturday, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Bates finishes the regular season at 13-11 overall and 4-5 in conference play. The Bobcats earned the sixth seed in the NESCAC Championship and will play at No. 3 seed Williams (16-7, 6-2) next Saturday at 3 p.m. in the conference playoff quarterfinals.
Tufts finishes the year 9-15 overall and 1-8 in the conference.
Junior Jimmy O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) led the Bobcats with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while sophomore Nick Schmiemann (Weymouth, Mass.) added 11 points. Bates received a boost from freshman tandem Kyle Philbrook (Auburn, Maine; career-high 7 assists) and John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.; 4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists).
Dave Beyel scored a game-high 20 points for the Jumbos, and Jon Pierce added 12 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Tufts led 53-49 with 14:10 left in the game and Bates took a timeout. Squires tipped in a missed three by junior Marshall Hatch (Chicago, Ill.) to start the 21-4 run, then rebounded a missed three by Dan Cook, leading to a layup by wide-open sophomore Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine) on a Philbrook assist. Dan Cook answered with a three for the Jumbos, but on Tufts' next trip down, Squires rebounded a missed follow by Amauris Quezada, and the 6-foot-6 forward started his own fast break, dishing near midcourt to Philbrook, who raced in for a layup from the right wing. Squires then found Gallant for a layup to tie the game at 57 with 10:36 left, and Gallant put the Bobcats ahead for good when he followed a missed layup by O'Keefe, making it 59-57 Bates with 10:00 left.
Bates was 0-for-8 from three-point land at that point in the game, but the Bobcats hit three straight from beyond the arc, from senior Ben Thayer (Gorham, Maine), Schmiemann and junior Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine), with a deep two by Hatch mixed in after Thayer's third career three. Wilson's three capped an 8-0 spurt spanning 65 seconds within the run, and suddenly Bates held a 70-57 lead with 6:54 left. A deep three by Hatch and a jumper by Place led to a 75-60 advantage with 3:26 left, and Bates was able to run out the rest of the clock comfortably.
Tufts led for most of the first half, taking over the lead with a 15-0 run midway through the period. Cook hit a three to start the run. James Long had a hoop underneath and a foul shot, and a jumper by Sam Mason made it 16-14 Tufts with 12:12 left in the period. another layup by Long was followed by two foul shots by Quezada and a three by Beyel, putting Tufts on top 23-14 with 10:49 left. Tufts extended the lead to as high as 10 (30-20), but Bates chipped away with a 10-2 run, featuring four straight hoops by O'Keefe, who finished the half with a game-high 14 points. The Bobcats tied it up at 36 on a layup by Squires, but Beyel capped the half with a deep three to put Tufts on top 39-36 at intermission.
Bates led Tufts 19-10 on points off turnovers and 18-8 on second-chance points. The Bobcats had 9 steals in the game to just one for Tufts.