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Men's basketball earns No. 6 seed in NESCACs after Tufts setback

Thomas Deegan '11 scored a career-high 18 points at Tufts in his last regular-season game on Saturday. (File photo)

MEDFORD, Mass. -- The Bates men's basketball team and Tufts engaged in a regular-season finale as close as their identical records suggested they would on Saturday. The host Jumbos overtook the lead and held on to a slim advantage down the stretch for a 66-62 win over the Bobcats, to earn the fourth seed in next weekend's NESCAC Championship.

Bates (12-12, 3-6 NESCAC) settles for the sixth seed and will play at No. 3 seed Amherst (21-2, 7-2), the third-ranked team in Division III in the conference quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. The Bobcats gave the Lord Jeffs all they could handle a week ago in a 74-68 loss at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium.

Tufts (13-11, 4-5) earned the all-important fifth seed, avoiding having to face a top-10 nationally ranked team in favor of No. 4 seed Trinity (13-11, 4-5).

Bates senior Thomas Deegan (Weymouth, Mass.) led the Bobcats with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. Senior Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine) was the only other Bobcat in double figures, with 10. Senior Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) collected nine points and five rebounds, and junior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) added seven points and a team-high six rebounds.

Tufts outrebounded Bates 52-27, including a 22-7 edge on the offensive glass. Scott Anderson hit only 6 of 21 shots from the field, but collected 11 offensive boards and 16 overall while scoring a team-high 16 points. Alex Orchowski added 12 points and 11 boards, and James Long contributed 11 points and six rebounds.

A three-pointer by Bates sophomore Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) got the Bobcats off to the first lead, at 3-0, and the Bobcats didn't give up the advantage until the second half. Bates led by as many as seven points twice early on in the half, at 8-1 and 13-6, and that was as high as the lead would ever get. Tufts cut it to one on three occasions in the period, including on a jumper by Sam Mason with 1:14 left that made it 27-26. A layup by Deegan, followed by a Deegan three-point play on the next possession, helped Bates to a 32-28 lead at halftime.

Amauris Quezada made a three-pointer at the 18:11 mark of the second half, then went coast-to-coast for a layup to give the Jumbos their first lead, at 35-34 with 17:57 to go in the game. An Orchowski layup made it 37-36 Tufts 67 seconds later, and the Jumbos never relinquished the lead thereafter, despite the Bobcats never trailing by more than five points. With 2:10 left in the game, Ellis made a jumper to close the gap down to one, at 62-61. An offensive rebound and putback by Orchowski bumped it back to three at 64-61, and Bates got one point back on a free throw by first-year Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) with 1:14 to go.

Squires stole the ball from Quezada on Tufts' next possession, but Matarazzo's layup attempt was blocked and collected by Orchowski with under 30 seconds to play. Oliver Cohen made a pair of crucial free throws with 17 seconds remaining for a 66-62 lead that Bates couldn't surmount in the final seconds of the game.

Ellis's nine points moved him past Adam Piandes '96 (1,342 career points) into eighth place on the Bobcats' all-time scoring list, with 1,347.

BOX SCORE: Tufts 66, Bates 62

2011 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship Seeding
Quarterfinals – Saturday, February 19 at higher seeds

No. 8 Bowdoin at No. 1 Williams – 2:00 p.m.

No. 7 Connecticut College at No. 2 Middlebury – 3:00 p.m.

No. 6 Bates at No. 3 Amherst – 2:00 p.m.

No. 5 Tufts at No. 4 Trinity – 3:00 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, February 26 at highest remaining seed (2:00 p.m./4:00 p.m.)

Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed

Remaining quarterfinal winners

Championship – Sunday, February 27 at 12:00 p.m.

Semifinal winners