Mortimer's career-high 20 points not enough in men's basketball's 82-76 loss at No. 16 Middlebury

First-year James Mortimer scored a career-high 20 points at No. 16 nationally ranked Middlebury on Friday, January 12, 2018. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- First-year James Mortimer scored a career-high 20 points and sophomore Jeff Spellman added a team-high 21 but the No. 16 nationally ranked Middlebury College Panthers rallied from 12 points down to defeat the Bates men's basketball team 82-76 Friday night at Pepin Gymnasium. 

Middlebury (10-3, 2-1 NESCAC) got a huge performance from Jack Daly. He nearly tallied a triple-double with a game-high 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Meanwhile, Mortimer (Sudbury, Mass.) made the most of his first career start for Bates (8-7, 1-2 NESCAC) with six rebounds and an assist to go along with his 20 points on 5-11 shooting. Spellman (Boston, Mass.) shot 8-13 from the floor and dished out a team-high six assists.

For the second straight year, the Panthers dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Bobcats 45-28. The Panthers tallied 12 second chance points and 44 points in the paint. 

With 6:37 to go in the game, Middlebury's Matt Folger made a three to put the Panthers up 67-60. Bates rallied and cut the lead to one on a pair of Spellman free throws with 2:32 left. The teams traded buckets and Mortimer hit two free throws with 25 seconds to go in the game to make the score 77-76 in favor of the Panthers. After Bates called timeout, the Bobcats fouled Folger and Folger made the first free throw to put the Panthers up two. Then he missed the second free throw but Daly made the biggest play of the game by grabbing the offensive rebound. His putback was good and Middlebury went up by four with just 18 seconds left.

A Mortimer three on the other end was no good and a pair of Daly free throws sealed the six-point victory for the home team. 

Mortimer scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half, leading the Bobcats to a hot start. 

Bates led 32-30 with 4:06 to go in the first half after the Panthers' Jack Farrell split a pair of free throws. They proceeded to go on an 8-0 run, with Spellman making a layup, Mortimer hitting a three and junior Brandon Galloway (Fort Washington, Md.) knocking down a three of his own to extend the lead to 40-30 with 2:21 left in the half. Daly split a pair of free throws and a Spellman jumper followed by junior Max Hummel (Glastonbury, Conn.) splitting a pair of free throws gave the Bobcats their biggest lead of the game at 43-31 with 1:35 remaining until halftime. Hummel chipped in 13 points on 5-8 shooting off the bench. 

But the Panthers ended the half on a 4-0 run to cut the Bobcat lead to 43-35. 

Middlebury started the second half hot and tied the game at 48 on a Hilal Dahleh three-pointer with 16:34 to go in the contest.

The Bobcats never led again but the game remained tight down the stretch, with the Panthers never leading by more than seven points.

Bates looks to bounce back Saturday when the Bobcats take on No. 4 nationally ranked Williams at 3:00 p.m.