LEWISTON, Maine -- It was a defensive battle from beginning to end, and Rhode Island College came away with a 45-43 non-conference victory over the host Bates men's basketball team on Sunday afternoon. The Anchormen rise to 4-0, with their third straight victory by a margin of three or fewer points, while Bates' record evens out at 2-2.
The Anchormen, who have made it to the NCAA Tournament for six consecutive years, shot only 32.7 percent from the field (17-52) but held Bates to a lower rate, at 29.8% (17-57). RIC outrebounded Bates 44-36 and took advantage of Bates' 6-13 shooting from the free-throw line (46.2%).
Only one player from each side scored in double digits: for RIC, Nyheem Sanders scored a game-high 19 points, including 3-5 three-point shooting. Chris Burton was a defensive force in the paint, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking four shots to go with six points. Burton keyed RIC's 26-18 advantage in points in the paint.
Senior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) led Bates with his third straight double-double, with 12 points and 13 rebounds, though he shot a season-low 5-14 from the field. Bogdanovich also had three blocked shots. Senior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) added nine points, junior Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) led Bates with three assists and three steals, and first-year Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) contributed six points and eight boards.
Sanders canned a three to open the game's scoring, but junior Derek Murphy (Lowell, Mass.) evened the score with a three from the right wing for the first of four ties in the first half. Brust scored seven straight points for the Bobcats midway through the half, capped by a free throw after an intentional foul was called against RIC, which gave Bates a 12-9 lead with 8:00 left in the game. Sanders drove one-on-one and finished with a spinning layup, but sophomore Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) answered seconds later with a three-pointer, assisted by Luke Matarazzo for a 17-13 Bates lead, the Bobcats' larges of the game.
Anchormen captain Tahrike Carter cut it to 17-15 with a layup, then answered a layup by Boornazian with a three to cut Bates' lead to 19-18.
Following a Bogdanovich layup, Michael Palumbo drove along the weakside baseline for a layup to cut it to 21-20 with 2:36 left in the period, and the teams traded misses in the subsequent two minutes before Carter finished off the period with layup with 22 seconds left, returning the lead to the Anchormen at 22-21 at halftime.
RIC started out the second half with a free throw and a three by Sanders for a five-point advantage. But over the next five minutes, Bates outscored RIC 10-1. Bogdanovich's interior pass to junior Sean Cunningham (Amherst, Mass.) for a layup got the run started, followed by a Matarazzo steal and a dunk by Bogdanovich on a feed by Brust. Bogdanovich then hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game back up at 26-26, then made 1-of-2 again on the next trip to regain the lead for Bates. The Anchormen missed six straight field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times in Bates' run, which was capped by a Brust jumper that put Bates ahead 31-27 with 13:04 left in regulation.
Burton blocked a layup attempt by Bogdanovich on Bates' next trip down, and Sanders' layup at the other end narrowed the gap to two, while starting a run of 11 unanswered points by the Anchormen. Alex Cruz's steal led to a three-point play for Sanders for a 32-31 RIC lead. Carter then made another key steal for RIC and Sanders fed Neal for a layup. A missed layup by Bates' Cunningham turned into a three-pointer at the other end for Sanders for a 37-31 RIC lead. As the clock ticked under the 8:00 mark, RIC's Carter was fouled by Bogdanovich and made one foul shot for a 38-31 Anchormen lead with 7:24 to go, the largest by either team for the whole game.
Bates charged back with a final run of its own. Matarazzo made a fallaway jumper, then fed sophomore Billy Selmon (Atlanta, Ga.) for a three after an RIC turnover to slice the lead to 38-36. Selmon then made 1-of-2 free throws on Bates' next possession, missing the second, but Bogdanovich rebounded the miss, then made it 41-38 Bates with a bucket underneath, assisted by Safford.
Sanders got the points back with another driving, spinning layup, but Matarazzo cleverly rebounded his own missed three and made the putback before RIC could react, for a 43-40 Bates lead with 3:28 to go.
Burton then scored back-to-back hoops for the Anchormen, first putting back his own miss, then converting a lob from Carter on an inbounds play from underneath the hoop for a 44-43 lead with 1:56 left to play.
Bates missed its last three field goal attempts, and two free throws as well, over the final 1:26, while RIC countered with one more point on a free throw by Carter to account for the final margin.