MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Senior Will Furbush (South Portland, Maine) and first-year Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) notched career highs with 23 and 19 points, respectively, but it wasn't enough for the Bates men's basketball team to avoid a 79-57 setback against the top-ranked team in Division III, Middlebury, in the NESCAC conference opener for both teams on Friday night.
Furbush hit 8-of-10 shots from the field, including 4-of-6 fropm behind the arc, providing a big spark off the bench for the Bobcats (6-5, 0-1 NESCAC). Furbush's previous best in 23 career games with Bates was eight points, scored at Gordon on Dec. 2, 2010.
Safford also came off the bench to net his 19 points, to go along with five rebounds and three steals.
Others on the team have had better nights. Senior Reid Christian (Pownal, Maine), fresh off a 30-point performance in Bates' win at the University of New England, went 0-for-9 from the field tonight. The Bobcats' leading scorer and rebounder, junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine), was limited to 1-of-8 shooting and one rebound before fouling out in 17 frustrating minutes. Senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) fouled out in even less floor time, 15 minutes, though he managed a productive 10 points and five rebounds in that time.
Middlebury senior Ryan Sharry led the Panthers (11-0, 1-0) with 24 points and 10 rebounds, one game after his 41-point performance against Rensselaer, in which he made 19 of 23 shots. Dylan Sinnickson added 13 points while Joey Kizel contributed 12 points and a game-high five assists.
The Panthers shot .508 from the floor, knocking down 16 of 20 free throws.
The Panthers opened the game on a 12-2 run in the opening 6:33, highlighted by an eight-point and four rebound start from Sharry. After a Bates timeout, the Bobcats made their best run of the game as the tandem of Safford and Furbush accounted for the next 10 points, cutting the deficit to 14-12 with 9:35 left. Safford bookended the run with a pair of baskets, as Furbush netted a traditional three-point play with a long-range trey for the other six points during the run.
That was as close as Bates would get as Middlebury ended the first half on a decisive 27-9 run, taking a 41-21 lead at the break. Sharry added another eight points with three lay-ups all set up by feeds from the guard duo of Kizel and Jake Wolfin. The pair had seven of Middlebury’s 11 first half assists allowing the Panthers to shoot .571 from the floor. Sharry ended the half with 16 points and eight rebounds.
In the second half, the Bobcats could only close the deficit to 17 points on two occasions.