MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- Led by junior Mark Brust's career-high 24 points, the Bates men's basketball team erased a 31-29 deficit with a 15-0 run and went on to down host Wesleyan in NESCAC men's basketball play on Saturday, 77-60, for the Bobcats' fourth straight win.
Bates (10-6, 4-2 NESCAC) is tied with Tufts for third place in the NESCAC standings. Wesleyan fell to 14-5 on the season, 3-3 in NESCAC action, putting the Cardinals in fifth place in the league.
It was the third straight win for Bates head coach Jon Furbush against Wesleyan's Joe Reilly, Bates' (and Furbush's) former head coach at Bates. Bates' run against Reilly's Cardinals began two years ago at Wesleyan, when Brust poured in a then career-high 18 points.
Neither team led by more than five points over the opening 25 minutes of the contest. With Wesleyan holding a 31-29 edge at the 16:15 mark of the second half, the Bobcats scored on seven of their next eight possessions while shooting 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-5 from the line. In the meantime, they held the Cardinals to just two shots, both misses, and forced five turnovers. Wesleyan finished the game with 21 giveaways to 14 by Bates.
The result was a commanding 44-31 Bates lead with 11:51 remaining. Brust had five of the 15 points to catalyze the decisive streak. By the 8:26 mark, Bates has pushed the gap to 17, 53-36, and let Wesleyan get no closer than 10, 55-45, with 6:08 on the clock.
Bates netted eight of the next 10 points to push the margin back to 16, 63-47. The Bobcats then made at least one free throw on eight straight possessions to eventually lead by 21, 77-56, with a minute to go. Bates has now defeated Wesleyan eight times in the last 10 meetings, though the Cardinals hold a 22-19 lead in the overall series.
Senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) and sophomore Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) both added 17 points for the winners as the latter was a brisk 7-for-7 from the charity stripe, complementing Brust's 9-for-10 effort there. Matarazzo set a personal high a week ago with 17 points in Bates' win at Bowdoin; since then he poured in 27 points last night and repeated the 17-point output today, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and also grabbing five rebounds, passing out a team-high three assists and making two steals.
Wesleyan got 24 points from junior Derick Beresford and 18 from junior Shasha Brown, while sophomore Glen Thomas was tops on the boards with 11. Bates junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) paced the Bobcats with nine caroms.
Next up for Bates is a trip to Husson on Wednesday for a non-conference game.