Bates men’s basketball had a good road trip this weekend, performing well in an 86-69 loss to the undefeated 10th ranked Amherst Lord Jeffs before unleashing a 72-55 domination of the Trinity Bantams. By splitting the two-game road trip, the Bobcats move into eighth place in the NESCAC.
This is the first time in program history that Bates has defeated Trinity on the road in a NESCAC game.
Against Amherst on Friday, the Bobcats were flying out of the gate, opening on a 15-4 run behind hot shooting. Junior guard and captain Luke Mattarazo, sophomore guard Graham Safford, and senior captain Mark Brust combined to hit four of seven three point attempts in the first half. Brust led the Bobcats in scoring with eighteen points, while also contributing five rebounds and five assists, while Matarazzo added thirteen points.
While Bates took a one-point 38-37 lead into halftime, they proved unable to contain Amherst’s prolific offense in the second half. Interior scoring from senior center and captain Ed Bogdanovich, who scored fourteen points for the Bobcats, temporarily kept Bates on pace with Amherst. However, the Lord Jeffs went on a 10-0 with about eight minutes remaining to take a 70-58 lead, and never relinquished control of the game.
A late Bates charge proved to be too little, too late, and the Bobcats fell 86-69.
When asked about the game, Matarazzo commented, “We played great against Amherst in the first half, but they just made more plays and took advantage of our mental lapses in transition in the second.”
“Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, I think we made a statement to the league that we are a true contender in the NESCAC after starting the game up 15-4 and having the lead at half,” added Bogdanovich.
On Saturday, Bates traveled to Trinity to face the Bantams in a game that the Bobcats needed to win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Against the Bantams, Bates took an early lead behind efforts from Safford (12 points), Bogdanovich (11 points), and Brust. Brust again led the Bobcats in scoring with sixteen points on 7-11 shooting from the field.
The Bobcats were simply too talented for the Bantams, especially in the backcourt, as Bates’ guards were effective in penetrating toward the rim, and Bates led 32-22 at the half.
“Against Trinity, we knew our season was on the line, and we never stopped attacking. Teams always want to be playing their best ball at the end of the year come playoff time, and that is exactly what we are doing,” explained Matarazzo.
In the second half, the Bobcats were propelled by stifling defense and impeccable free throw shooting. The Bobcats shot an impressive 25 of 28 from the line overall, and the Bantams never even came within 10 points of the Bobcats’ lead for the remainder of the game. The Bobcats ultimately won 72-55.
“It was great to see the effort against Amherst carry over into Saturday’s game against Trinity,” commented Bogdanovich, “We got an early lead in the game and never looked back. It’s great to see that we’re starting to peak at the right time of the season and I don’t think any team in the NESCAC would want to run into us in the playoffs.”
With the win, the Bobcats are a game within fifth place in the NESCAC. A fifth place finish would mean Bates would avoid the three-headed monster of Amherst, Williams, and Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs. All three teams are currently ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The win moves Bates to 9-13 (3-6) on the season. Bates’ last NESCAC game before the playoffs will come when the Bobcats host Hamilton College on Friday in Alumni Gym.