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Men's basketball sinks Hamilton down the stretch

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates men's basketball team outscored Hamilton 8-0 over the final two minutes to take a 59-56 NESCAC victory over the Continentals on Saturday evening at Alumni Gym.

Bates (10-14, 4-6 NESCAC) made 7-of-11 3-pointers in the second half, including one by sophomore Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) with 1:59 to go, which pulled Bates within two at 56-54, and a second one by junior Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) with 1:10 left, giving Bates a 57-56 lead. Matarazzo made a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go to ice the win.

Peter Kazickas made 6-of-7 shots from the field to lead Hamilton (12-11, 3-6 NESCAC) with 13 points. Bradley Gifford sparked the Continentals off the bench with 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots, and Greg Newton also scored 10 points. Joseph Lin dished out five assists from off the bench.

On Bates' senior night, senior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) tied his season high with a game-high 21 points, making 7-of-10 shots from both the field and the free-throw line. Matarazzo added 17 points, hitting 5-of-7 from behind the arc, and adding four assists. Senior Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) had a game- and season-high seven assists, and first-year Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) added nine points and seven rebounds off the Bates bench.

UPDATE: Bates has earned the seventh seed in this weekend's eight-team NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship. The Bobcats will play at No. 2 seed Williams on Saturday at 2pm in the quarterfinals.

Hamilton led throughout the first half, starting out the game with a jumper by Newton, a Newton-assisted layup by Kazickas and a three by Kazickas, also aided by Newton, which gave Hamilton a 7-3 edge. The lead grew to as many as nine points, at 20-11, after Newton made a three and followed it with a pair of free throws at the 10:09 mark. Bates cut it to 20-16 on a three by Billy Selmon, but Hamilton regained a nine-point advantage with a jumper by Ken Click and a three by Jack Donnelly.

Bogdanovich responded with back-to-back layups, and Boornazian narrowed the lead to 25-23 when he tipped in a missed jumper by Bogdanovich. Hart drilled a jumper with 1:17 to go in the half, giving Hamilton a 31-25 lead the Continentals took into halftime.

Bates opened the second half with a pair of turnovers and a pair of misses, allowing Hamilton to expand the lead back to nine, at 34-25, when Click fed Newton for a three. Matarazzo drained a three on a Brust assist, however, and the Bobcats were then fueled by the game's most spectacular play, as Safford deflected a jumper by Newton to himself, then threaded a needle with a deft bounce pass to Boornazian streaking down the floor for a dunk that closed the game to 34-30. Safford then swished a three from the top of the arc wiht 13:43 to go, making it a 34-33 game.

Hart responded with a steal and a layup for Hamilton, but Matarazzo answered with another three to tie the game for the first time at 36-36 with 11:48 to go.

Matarazzo drilled yet another three at the 10:39 mark for Bates' first lead, 39-36. But Gifford found a groove after a Hamilton timeout, converting a three-point play on an assist by Lin, then drilling a three from the left corner to give Hamilton the lead back at 41-39. Bates missed a three-pointer, and at the other end Gifford again converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 44-39 advantage.

Bates' Bogdanovich and Hamilton's Click then traded additional three-point plays, and Kazickas answered a Bogdanovich jumper with a steal and a layup, keeping Hamilton's lead at five, 49-44. Bogdanovich made a pair of foul shots with 4:44 to go, and after a missed layup by Hart, Brust set up a three from the wing by Boornazian to tie the game at 49-49 with 4:12 left.

Hamilton again kept Bates at bay, getting a Kazickas layup, then following a Bates turnover with a pair of free throws by Eric Benvenuti for a 53-49 lead. Bates got back-to-back offensive rebounds on its next trip down the floor, and Bogdanovich's putback of a Safford miss closed the gap to 53-51, before Hart drilled a deep three with 2:17 to go for Hamilton's 56-51 lead. Hamilton was held to three missed 3-pointer attempts over the final two minutes, while the Bobcats regained the lead with threes by Safford and Matarazzo.