LEWISTON, Maine -- Senior John Squires' tip-in at the buzzer gave the Bates College men's basketball team a dramatic 60-59 victory over NESCAC rival Trinity College on Saturday at Alumni Gym.
The Bobcats (11-9, 5-4 NESCAC) trailed by 17 points with 12:13 left in regulation, but doubled their point total in the remaining 12 minutes of the game, outscoring Trinity (10-11, 2-6 NESCAC) 30-12 in that time span.
Held scoreless over the final five minutes, Trinity clung to a 59-58 lead after Squires' (Swampscott, Mass.) layup with 1:59 left in the game. The score stayed there until the final possession. After a Trinity turnover with 11 seconds left, Bates called timeout to set up a final shot at taking the lead for the first time since the game stood at 7-6. Junior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) received the inbounds pass and, well defended, took an off-balance, 15-foot jump shot from the left wing. The shot sailed over the rim and caromed off the glass, where the 6-foot-8 Squires outleapt all others and tipped the ball in just before the final buzzer for the shocking win, sending Bates fans flooding onto the court in celebration.
The play represented the only offensive rebound of the game for Squires, who recorded his seventh double-double in the past eight games, with 16 points and 13 boards. First-year Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) added 14 points off the bench, and Mark Brust chipped in with 13 points. Junior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) had nine points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, who outrebounded the Bantams 36-31.
Bates bounced back from poor shooting in the first half (6-23, .261) by making 13 of 22 shots in the second period (.591).
Trinity's three top scorers all came off the bench: Eric Dean led the way with 12 points, followed by Mick Distasio with 11 and Chris Applegate with 10, to go with a team-high seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Trinity led only 25-23 at the half, but surged to start the second period, outscoring Bates 22-7 in the opening eight minutes. Carter Trent and Dean both hit 3-pointers to get things going, followed by back-to-back layups by Applegate for a 37-27 lead with 14:32 left to play. Distasio and Leonard Chenfeld sandwiched a driving layup by Safford by assisting each other's trifectas, and a steal by Distasio led to a layup by Mickel Simpson, prompting a Bates timeout with 12:13 left and the Bobcats suddenly trailing 47-30.
Safford nailed a three from the deep corner out of the timeout, then drew a foul and hit two free throws on the next possession, starting a 14-2 Bates outburst over a four-minute span. Sophomore Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) assisted Squires for a layup, then set up the trailing Brust for a three on a delayed break. Matarazzo (eight points, four assists) then broke down his defender and swished a jumper from the top of the key, then made a pair of foul shots with 8:12 left, and suddenly the Bobcats had cut the deficit to five points (49-44).
Trinity regained its offense, getting a layup from Chenfeld, consecutive threes by Dean and Distasio and two foul shots by Simpson, to bump the advantage to nine (59-50) with 5:14 left in the game. But over the last five minutes, Trinity missed all five of its field goal attempts and committed two turnovers. Meanwhile Bogdanovich made a layup, a jumper and two free throws in a span of 1:22 to snip the lead to 59-54, and Squires made layups at the 2:37 and 1:59 marks to bring the Bobcats within one point prior to the decisive tip-in.
Bates plays three games on the road in the coming week, with non-conference games at UMaine-Farmington on Tuesday night and at Rhode Island College on Thursday. They'll travel to Hamilton next Sunday for their NESCAC finale.