|Mark Brust '13 helped Bates clinch a home playoff game next weekend against Bowdoin.|
LEWISTON, Maine -- Rookie guard Mark Brust scored a career-high 21 points, including 15 during a 22-7 second-half run spanning seven minutes, to lead the Bates College men's basketball team to a 64-55 NESCAC victory over Tufts University in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Bates (13-11, 5-4 NESCAC) earned the fourth seed in the NESCAC Championships, which begin next Saturday. The Bobcats, who have won six out of their past seven games, will host No. 5 seed Bowdoin (13-11, 4-5) in the conference quarterfinals at 3 p.m.
Tufts (6-17, 2-7 NESCAC) finished the season with a 29-point, eight-rebound, five-blocked shot performance by senior Jon Pierce, the team's all-time leading scorer. Scott Anderson added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Jumbos, and Dave Beyel chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds.
Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) shot 10-of-13 from the field, and hit seven shots in a row to lift the Bobcats from a 10-point deficit (44-34) with 12:07 left into a 56-51 Bates lead with 5:21 left. Bates hit five of six free throw attempts over the final two minutes and held Tufts without a field goal over the last four minutes to help ice the win.
Brian Ellis scored 15 points and Nick Schmiemann added 12 for Bates. Jimmy O'Keefe grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Pierce scored 15 points in the first half, hitting 6-of-8 shots including all three of his three-point attempts, to lead the Jumbos to a 30-21 halftime lead. After Bates took a 4-0 lead, Pierce tied it up at 4-4 on a jumper, then hit consecutive three-pointers for an 11-6 Tufts lead. Anderson scored five straight points to counter a pair of baskets by Brust, then another three by Pierce made it 21-15 Jumbos with 5:39 left in the period. Pierce added a layup underneath, then followed an Anderson three with another hoop down low to make it 28-15 Tufts with 1:52 left in the half. A layup by Ellis wiht four seconds left in the period offset a pair of foul shots by Beyel, and the teams headed into the locker rooms with Tufts holding a 30-21 lead.
Tufts extended the lead to 14 in the early going of the second half, as Pierce converted a three-point play, added a layup, and a jumper by Beyel made it 37-23 Tufts with 16:32 to play.
Bates scored six straight points on hoops by Neil Creahan and Brust and a pair of free throws by John Squires, but a three by Anderson pushed the Jumbo lead back to 10 at 44-34 with 12:07 to go.
Brust answered with his only three of the game, a shot from the deep left corner on an assist by Thomas Deegan, to cut it to 44-37. Brust hit a jumper on Bates' next possession, then Schmiemann got into the act with a three-point play to close it to 48-42 with 10:01 left. Brust swooped in for another layup, and a deep three by Schmiemann off an offensive rebound and assist by Ryan Weston cut it to 49-47 with 8:42 to play.
Brust turned it into overdrive, hitting three leaning jumpers on Bates' next three possessions. Schmiemann hit a foul shot to make it 54-51 Bates, then Alex Gallant blocked a 15-foot jumper by Pierce and Brust was there to scoop up the rebound, then streaked down the floor for his seventh straight hoop, making it 57-52.