Last Saturday, Jan. 20, the Bobcats kept the crowd at their edge of their seats as they barely edged the Jumbos 77-75. This past weekend, after coming off of an exhilarating victory at Tufts, the men’s basketball team traveled to two different NESCAC schools in Connecticut and came back to Bates with one loss and one win.
On Friday, Jan. 26, in Middletown, CT, No. 14 nationally ranked Wesleyan defeated the Bobcats 68-50. Jeff Spellman ‘20, from Boston, MA, scored a team-high 10 points for Bates. Spellman’s three-pointer early in the game put Bates on the board as the Bobcats were held scoreless until the 16:51 mark.
Despite the upsetting outcome, the Bobcats made some impressive plays. Nick Lynch ‘19, from Westford, MA, contributed eight points, six rebounds and three blocks while Malik Velmar ‘21, from Yorktown Virginia, scored a season-high seven points. Velmar scored a three-pointer in the final minute of the game. Finally, senior captain, Shawn Strickland, from Middletown, CT, led the team with three assists.
“One thing that we focus on as a team is to always keep improving, regardless of what the score may read at the end of a game,” says Strickland. “Overall, we are a much more experienced, mentally tough and cohesive group than we were on November 1st when the season first began, and with that being said I think that we are a team who will surprise many during the second half of NESCAC play and into the NESCAC tournament.”
The Bobcats came back strong on Saturday, January 27, putting their tough loss against Wesleyan behind them and defeating Connecticut College 69-56. 17 points apiece were scored from Spellman and Max Hummel ‘19.
During the first nine minutes of the game, the Bobcats were only able to score via a pair of three throws and immediately trailed the Camels 12-2. Regardless of the slow start, Bates slowly started to come back and led 33-29 at the half. Spellman scored six of his 17 points at halftime while Hummel added 10. Spellman and Hummel were both key to help drive the Bobcats forward in the second half and the Bobcats were able to leave Connecticut with a satisfying win.
When thinking about their season thus far, head coach Jon Furbush notes Spellman’s first collegiate award. Spellman was named Maine Co-Player of the Week on January 17, by the Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association. The last player to earn MMBCWA of the week was Mike Boornazian ‘16. As of January 17, 2018 Spellman ranked third in the NESCAC in scoring, with 16.9 points scored per game. In Connecticut, Spellman kept his pace and scored an impressive total of 27 points for the Bobcats.
“Jeff is a difficult player to guard because he’s proven that he can shoot the 3, has a great in between game and finishes well at the rim,” says Coach Furbush. “Spellman leads by example and makes his teammates better. He has a good demeanor that keeps our team on an even keel, regardless of the adversity we often face in games.”
“Spellman being named Maine Co-player of the week comes as no surprise to me,” adds Strickland. “Since his arrival last year I knew that he had the potential to be a special player for us and we will continue to value his role as the rest of the season unfolds.”
Currently, the men’s basketball team is ranked eighth in the NESCAC standings with three games remaining.
Strickland is eager to lead the team to a successful trio of games. “I think that our team chemistry has been great overall. This is really important for us having such a young team and it’s something that we’ve been building on since the fall when we all arrived on campus,” he says. “The team chemistry that we’ve built, which can be seen during our games in how supportive we are of one another, has been a large part of the success that we’ve been able to have this season.”
The Bobcats will host Hamilton on Friday, Feb. 2 and Amherst Saturday, Feb. 3. Both games will be held in Alumni Gym so be sure to support Spellman and the men’s team as they look to dominate their home court.