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Men's hoops wins NESCAC quarterfinal at Tufts, 57-54

MEDFORD, Mass. -- Bates senior John Squires tied a career high with 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to carry the Bates men's basketball team to a 57-54 win at Tufts, in Saturday's NESCAC Championship quarterfinal.

Bates is the lone road team to advance to next Saturday's conference semifinals, where the Bobcats will meet top-seeded Amherst in the Lord Jeffs' home LeFrak Gym at 5:30pm. It will be Bates' second NESCAC semifinal appearance in the past three years.

Bates put together an 18-3 run covering more than nine minutes in the second half to gain the decisive advantage. Tufts missed three three-point attempts in the final 10 seconds that could have sent the game to overtime.

Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, which ended with Jumbo sophomore Kwame Firempong (Inglewood, Calif.) collecting a loose ball and firing up a three that beat the buzzer to give Tufts a 28-27 lead.

Tufts opened up a seven-point lead twice early in the second half, including 42-35 after Firempoing's layup with 14:36 on the clock. However, that's when Bates began its game-changing run. Squires had three hoops during the stretch, and three-pointers by sophomore Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) and freshman Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) gave the Bobcats a 53-45 lead with 5:25 on the clock.

Firempong had a three-pointer to stem the Bates rush, but a jumper by junior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) had Bates up 57-50 with 2:18 remaining. The Bobcats would not score again, but were able to hang on.

Layups by junior Scott Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) and Firempong after Tufts steals had the hosts within 57-54 with 1:39 on the clock. Bates missed its next three shots, giving the Jumbos a chance. Ferris missed a three for Tufts, but senior tri-captain James Long (Norwell, Mass.) grabbed the offensive rebound. After a stop in play, Firempong missed a three with six seconds remaining, Ferris got the rebound and gave it back out to Firempong, but his three at the buzzer was short and the Bobcats prevailed.

Bates was dominant on the offensive glass with 23 rebounds, including six by Squires. He hit 12 of 21 shots and added a free throw for his 25 points. Brust finished with nine points and four assists for Bates, while junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) had nine points and seven rebounds. The Bobcats won the overall battle of the boards 39-28.

Firempong and Anderson both finished with 10 points for Tufts, which was just 2 for 16 from three-point territory. Anderson added six rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore Tom Folliard (Richmond, Va.) had six points and six assists for the Jumbos, who only turned the ball over six times.

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