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Men's basketball comeback shocks Bowdoin, 75-71

Reid Christian '12 scored a career-high 17 points from off the bench, hitting 5-of-6 three-pointers in the second half. (File photo)

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Facing a 38-21 deficit at halftime, the Bates College men's basketball team staged a huge comeback to beat Bowdoin 75-71 on Saturday at Morrell Gymnasium.

Seventeen hours after suffering an overtime loss at Colby on Friday night, the Bobcats (10-9, 1-3 NESCAC) got their first conference win of a season they might have just turned around, and defeated the rival Polar Bears for the third straight time. Bowdoin fell to 11-4 overall, 1-2 in the NESCAC.

Senior Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine) scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half; junior Reid Christian (Pownal, Maine) scored 15 of his career-high 17 points in the second period, hitting 5 of 6 shots from long range in the period, and senior Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) scored 13 of his 17 points over the final 20 minutes.

Senior Nick Schmiemann (Weymouth, Mass.) added 11 points, while junior Kyle Philbrook (Auburn, Maine) collected six assists. Senior Thomas Deegan (weymouth, Mass.) grabbed eight rebounds and made two steals.

Justin Nowell led the Polar Bears with 19 points, to go with five assists and six rebounds. Will Hanley scored 13 points with 10 boards and five blocks. Randy DeFeo scored 13 points to go with five rebounds and four assists, and Ryan O'Connell added 12 points.

After trading buckets in the early going, Bowdoin controlled the remainder of the first half. The Polar Bears used a 13-4 spurt, capped by a Wyatt Littles three-pointer, to take a 13-point lead midway through the frame. Bowdoin then pushed the lead to as many as 17 points and ended the period with a 38-21 advantage after a Justin Nowell lay-in beat the halftime buzzer. Overall, the Polar Bears shot 56% for the half and held Bates to just 6-30 from the field (20%).

Bates quickly cut into the Bowdoin lead and used a trio of Christian three-pointers in a 12-0 surge that brought them within one point, 47-46, with nine minutes to play. First-year Luke Matarazzo's (Shelton, Conn.) second of back-to-back layups put Bates ahead 49-48 with 8:10 left. Bowdoin took back the lead, however, and had a five-point cushion with 5:07 left in the game, at 60-55.

A three by Christian narrowed the gap to one, 60-59, with 4:20 left, and Ellis made a pair of free throws with 3:25 left to play, giving Bates the lead back for good at 61-60. But the winning effort wasn't complete without another three by Christian, followed by a three-point play by Ellis. Gallant made six free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

Bates scored 16 points off of Bowdoin's eight turnovers in the second half. Bates shot just 36.7% from the field for the game, but committed just six turnovers compared to 15 for Bowdoin. The Bobcats also went 24-30 from the free throw line as the Polar Bears hit 10 of 20.

Bates next plays Wesleyan on Friday, Jan. 28, at Alumni Gym. The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Wesleyan coach Joe Reilly, who preceded head coach Jon Furbush at Bates and brings the Cardinals to Alumni Gym for the first time in his three years at Wesleyan. Furbush was both a player and an assistant coach under Reilly at Bates.

The Bobcats will finish their home schedule the following day, Saturday Jan. 29, against Connecticut College at 2 p.m.

All of Bates' games can be followed via Live Stats and Live Video Webcast.

BOX SCORE: Bates 75, Bowdoin 71