LEWISTON, Maine -- No. 6 nationally ranked Amherst College pulled away from a 33-31 halftime lead to defeat the Bates College men's basketball team 67-54 on Friday night at Alumni Gym.
David Waller made a 3-pointer, a jumper and a dunk in the opening six minutes, and went on to score a game-high 19 points for the Lord Jeffs (19-2, 7-0 NESCAC), who won their sixth straight game and remained in a two-way tie for first place in the NESCAC with top-ranked Middlebury.
Waller followed the dunk by assisting on a layup by Peter Kaasila for Amherst's first lead, at 13-12. Bates tied the game four times over the remainder of the first period, but Amherst never trailed again.
Willy Workman totaled 11 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for the Lord Jeffs, while Aaron Toomey contributed nine points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists, and Jeff Holmes came off the bench for eight points and 10 boards.
Bates senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) posted his sixth double-double in the past seven games with 14 points and 12 boards. Junior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) also scored 14 points for the Bobcats (10-9, 4-4 NESCAC), who slipped into sixth place in the NESCAC for the time being.
Bates' Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) made a pair of 3-pointers in the first 3:18 for an 8-3 Bates lead, but the sophomore guard made only one shot in 11 attempts the rest of the way, finishing with eight points and a team-high four assists and two steals. Junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) hauled down nine rebounds.
Amherst outrebounded Bates by a 50-37 margin and shot 41.2 percent from the field, while holding the Bobcats to 32.3% shooting, including 22.9% (8-35) in the second half.
Bates held Amherst scoreless over the final two minutes of the first half, and first-year Billy Selmon's (Atlanta, Ga.) three with 43 seconds left cut Amherst's slight lead to two points at intermission, at 33-31.
Both teams' intense, end-line to end-line play continued into the second half, with Bates staying close to the favored visitors. A 3-pointer by first-year Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) with 11:59 to play cut the Jeffs' edge to 47-42.
Holmes scored three straight buckets in the paint for Amherst, however, to bump the lead into double digits for the first time at 53-42 with 9:08 to play. The buffer was all Amherst needed to hold Bates off the rest of the way, with the Bobcats getting no closer than nine points and trailing by no more than 13 points over the final nine minutes of the contest.