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Brust nets 22 at Hamilton; men's hoops seeded fifth at NESCACs

CLINTON, N.Y. -- Junior guard Mark Brust scored 22 points to lead the Bates men's basketball team in a 72-62 loss at Hamilton College on Sunday, in the teams' first-ever NESCAC matchup in men's basketball.

The Bobcats (11-12, 5-5 NESCAC) had their place in next weekend's NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship Quarterfinals already secured before the game started; they are the fifth seed in the tournament and will play at fourth-seeded Tufts on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4pm for a chance to move into the semifinals.

Bates, Bowdoin, and Williams finished their conference schedules with identical NESCAC records of 5-5. Head-to-head, all teams own 1-1 records against one another, and all teams have the same amount of conference wins. Comparing each team’s record against the top four, Bates is 1-3 (with a win over third-seeded Wesleyan to its credit), while Bowdoin and Williams are 0-4; therefore Bates is No. 5.

It was the fourth 22-points-plus performance in a NESCAC game for Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) this season, a list headed by his career-high 29 points at Tufts on Jan. 28. Senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) had 15 points and nine rebounds, while junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) contributed 12 points and eight boards. Sophomore Sean Cunningham (Amherst, Mass.) tied a career high with six points off the bench.

Greg Newton scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead Hamilton (15-9 overall, 4-6 NESCAC), the No. 8 seed in the 2012 NESCAC Championship in their inaugural season in the conference. Pat Sullivan and Eric Benvenuti chipped in 13 points apiece for the winners. Hans Schulte posted nine points and nine rebounds off the bench.

The teams combined for 11 ties and five lead changes in the first 25 minutes. The Bobcats scored the first eight points only to have the Continentals roar back and take a 15-14 lead on a Matt Magruder 3-pointer with 12:07 left in the half.

Hamilton's largest lead of the first half was six points at 23-17 with 5:35 remaining. Bates scored the next six points to tie the score at 23-23 with 4:24 left. Cunningham made 1 of 2 free throws for the Bobcats with 38 seconds remaining and sent the teams to the locker rooms deadlocked at 30-30.

Neither team led by more than three points the first eight minutes of the second half. After a Squires layup tied the score at 45-all with 15:09 left, the Continentals went on a 14-2 run, and led comfortably the rest of the afternoon.

Peter Kazickas started the run with a jumper with 12:33 remaining. Schulte followed with back-to-back baskets, and after two made free throws by Bates, Sullivan sandwiched two layups around a Benvenuti jumper. Joseph Lin capped the spurt with a steal and layup for a 59-47 lead with 7:29 left. Hamilton's advantage fluctuated between seven and 12 points the rest of the way.

The Continentals shot 57.1 percent from the field in the second half, and made half of their 16 3-point attempts for the game. The Bobcats shot 32.8 percent from the floor, including 2-for-15 from beyond the arc.

Bates grabbed 21 offensive rebounds and held a 43-31 advantage on the glass, but the Bobcats shot just 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) at the free-throw line. Bates entered the game at 69.7 percent from the line as a team. Meanwhile, Hamilton went 16-for-19 (84.2 percent) at the charity stripe.

Bates plays its regular-season finale on Tuesday, hosting Saint Joseph's College of Maine at 7pm (Live Stats / Video). The game will be Senior Night for Reid Christian (Pownal, Maine), Will Furbush (South Portland, Maine), Kyle Philbrook (Auburn, Maine), Squires and Ryan Weston (Bangor, Maine).

Stats and Play by Play

2012 Men’s Basketball Championship Seeding

Quarterfinals – Saturday, February 18 at higher seeds
No. 8 Hamilton at No. 1 Amherst – 4:00 p.m.
No. 7 Williams at No. 2 Middlebury – 4:00 p.m.
No. 6 Bowdoin at No. 3 Wesleyan – 3:00 p.m.
No. 5 Bates at No. 4 Tufts – 4:00 p.m.

Semifinals – Saturday, February 25 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 26 at 12:00 p.m.
Semifinal winners