LEWISTON, Maine -- A pair of newcomers to the rotation led the way as the Bates College men's basketball team opened its 2011-12 season with a 71-69 victory over UMaine-Fort Kent Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium in the first game of the three-team Bates Tipoff Classic.
Bates junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine), whose collegiate experience until now has been limited by injuries to six games in his freshman season, scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Bobcats (1-0). First-year guard Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) debuted with 13 points and set a Bates record in his college debut with eight steals.
The visiting Bengals (4-3) will meet Wentworth Institute of Technology (1-0) on Saturday at 1pm at Bates in the second game of the tournament. The Bates Tipoff Classic then wraps up with Bates hosting Wentworth on Sunday at 1pm.
Junior guard Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) also scored 13 points for Bates, while senior captain Reid Christian (Pownal, Maine) added 10 points and a career-high six rebounds. Sophomore guard Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) dished out a career-high six assists.
UMFK overcame a 14-2 disadvantage in turnovers in the first half to lead 33-31 at intermission, thanks to a 27-9 edge on the boards and a team field goal percentage of .650 (13-20). Bates bounced back to win the rebounding category in the second half, 21-20, while the Bengals took better care of the ball in the second period, with seven giveaways.
Senior Manny Odugbela (Providence, R.I.) scored a game-high 20 points to go with three steals for UMFK, while junior Jeremy Thomas (Detroit, Mich.) and senior Othniel Hyliger (Sandy Point, St. Kitts) added 12 points apiece. Junior Pablo Llamas (Leon, Spain) led the Bengals in rebounds (8) and assists (4), and also tied for the team lead in blocked shots with sophomore Jan Brylowski (Montreal, Quebec), with three.
The lead changed hands 11 times and the game was tied on five occasions. Bates took the lead for good at 58-57 with 7:01 left, when Bogdanovich followed a three-point play with a baseline jumper on a feed by Brust. The Bobcats pulled ahead by six points, at 69-63 with 3:14 to go, as Christian followed a layup with a three-pointer from the corner assisted by Safford. Odugbela countered by drawing a foul and hitting a pair of free throws with 3:01 left, then got a steal and a layup to pull the Bengals within 69-67 with 2:21 to go.
Christian rebounded his own miss and was fouled with 1:00 left in the game, and hit both free throws for a 71-67 Bates lead. Odugbela drove for a layup to cut it to two with 50 seconds left in the game, but the Bengals couldn't take advantage of two offensive boards in the waning seconds of the game. UMFK had the chance to inbound the ball from halfcourt with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, but an offensive foul was called before the inbound pass, putting Matarazzo at the line and cancelling out any hopes for a buzzer-beating shot by the Bengals.
Safford's eight steals eclipses the Bates single-game record of seven, held by Alex Johnson from the 1984-85 season, Darrell Akins in 1991-92 and Keith Ferdinando in 1991-92.