Men's basketball holds off Babson for 78-75 win at home

Jeff Spellman led Bates with 18 points and five assists in a 78-75 victory over Babson College on Dec. 29, 2017. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College men's basketball team used a hot-shooting first half to assume a 15-point halftime lead, then held on in the second half to defeat visiting Babson 78-75 in a non-conference game Friday afternoon in Alumni Gymnasium.

Bates (7-3) won its second straight game and remained undefeated at home with a 3-0 mark. The Bobcats will close out the calendar year with a non-conference home game against Brandeis University on Sunday at 1pm.

Andrew Jaworski scored a game-high 25 points for Babson (5-5), while Bradley Jacks added 17 points and nine rebounds, Nick Comenale tallied 15 points, and Brandon Johnson added eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Shyheim Ulrickson also scored eight points and led the Beavers with five assists. The Beavers, who most recently defeated Amherst at home on Dec. 7, will next host Johnson & Wales Sunday at 2pm.

For Bates, Jeff Spellman scored 18 points with five assists, and Nick Gilpin added 10 points, all scored in the opening seven minutes of play. Nick Lynch contributed eight rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots for the Bobcats.

Bates shot lights-out in the first half, shooting 22-for-35 (.629) from the floor and making 11-of-18 (.611) attempts from beyond the arc -- seven different players made threes for the Bobcats in the half, with Shawn Strickland, Kody Greenhalgh and Eli Frater all going 2-for-2.

But Babson proved to be no slouch in the opening period, either, making 7-of-15 from long distance as Jaworski (12 points), Jacks (11) and Comenale (11) all scored in double figures, with Comenale draining 3-of-5 shots from deep.

Greenhalgh sparked the already-hot Bobcats off the bench, knocking down back-to-back threes, then following a steal with a coast-to-coast layup for a 42-26 Bates lead, prompting a Babson timeout with 7:47 to go.

Bates made its first four 3-pointers in the game and 11 of its first 13. Max Hummel's three with 6:30 to go in the half gave the Bobcats a 17-point lead at 48-31. Back-to-back threes by Jaworski and Jacks in the final 2:06 reduced the deficit to 55-42, and Bates' Tom Coyne gave the Bobcats a 57-42 halftime lead with a putback of his own miss. Bates outscored Babson 24-2 in bench points in the period.

Both teams cooled off in the second half, and Babson chipped away at Bates' lead for nearly the duration of the period, closing the gap to 76-75 in the final minute but never taking back the lead.

After achieving a slight 16-15 advantage in rebounding in the first half, Babson took advantage of its greater size in the second half, dominating the boards by a 28-15 margin, including nine off the offensive glass. The Beavers outscored the Bobcats 20-8 in the paint in the second half.

Babson outscored Bates 6-0 in under two minutes early in the second half to narrow the gap to 61-50 with 13:23 to go, as Johnson made a layup, then found Jacks underneat for a layup on back-to-back possessions.

Spellman made two threes and Frater added another to keep Bates' lead in double digits, but Ulrickson guided an 8-0 spurt with a layup and assists to Jaworski and Comenale. Jaworski made 2-of-3 free throws after he was fouled shooting a three, and with 8:06 to go Bates' lead was down to 70-63.

Coyne made back-to-back hoops for Bates to bump the lead back to 11 with 6:53 to go. Then Babson held Bates to one field goal on its final eight attempts in the game, outscoring the Bobcats 12-2 over a stretch of six minutes. Jaworski started the run with a jumper, followed by a three with 4:53 left. With under four minutes to go, Strickland stole the ball from a Beaver and missed the layup, but a trailing Lynch followed with a rebound and a putback for a 76-68 lead with 3:43 to go.

Jaworski followed a Bates turnover with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it 76-71, and a Jacks layup closed it to 76-73. After a missed jumper by Coyne, Babson rebounded three of its own misses in a row before Johnson converted to make it a one-point game, at 76-75, with 55 seconds left.

Out of a Bates timeout, Spellman missed a deep, contested 3-pointer, returning the ball to the Beavers with 28 seconds to go, but a traveling call against the Beavers with seven seconds remaining gave Bates the ball again. Babson had two fouls to give before hitting the bonus, and Strickland made 2-of-2 foul shots with 1.3 seconds on the clock to ice the win.

The teams combined to commit only 13 turnovers, a season-low five committed by Bates.