The Bates men’s basketball team took two tough losses this weekend against NESCAC foes, Trinity and Amherst. Two of the top teams in the conference, the Bantams and Lord Jeff’s, proved to be a little too much for the Bobcats to handle. The Bobcats played Amherst in front of a packed Alumni Gym on Friday night.
The game began with a resounding dunk by junior forward Marcus Delpeche to put Bates up 2-0 just two seconds into the game. After seeing his twin throw it down, junior Malcolm Delpeche was excited. “It was actually a tip-off play drawn up by coach,” Malcolm said, “we felt pretty good after it worked exactly as planned.”
Despite a barrage of long jumpers from Amherst sophomore guard Johnny McCarthy, Bates kept the game close for the rest of the first half. McCarthy channeled his inner Stephen Curry by hitting a buzzer beating 30-footer to put Amherst up 41-33 at halftime.
Amherst began the second half on an 18-6 run, which put the Bobcats in an extremely difficult hole. However, Bates did not give up and put up a fight against the number 11 ranked team in the country. Junior guard Jerome Darling provided great energy off the bench, showcasing his playmaking and shooting ability. Malcolm Delpeche protected the paint and used his length to block two shots. Senior captain Mike Boornazian provided four rebounds, two steals, and 17 points.
The Jeffs showed why they are one of the best teams in the country, using their size advantage and sharpshooting to win 88-69. Sophomores and Jayde Dawson led the way for Amherst. Dawson scored 22 points, collected two rebounds, and dished out eight assists. McCarthy scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half, and had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Bates had little time to recover from Friday’s loss, because the Trinity Bantams traveled to Lewiston on Saturday. The Bobcats had extra motivation for this game because Trinity sent them home last season in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, this attempt at revenge had to be postponed three hours, because Trinity’s 235-pound junior Ed Ogundeko, otherwise known as “Baby Shaq” shattered the backboard in warm-ups. Ogundeko is one of the elite big men in the NESCAC. Eager players and fans watched as the Bates custodial staff assembled a brand new backboard.
Honoring the seniors in their last home game, Bates looked extra hungry for a win when the game finally began. Coach John Furbush started all three seniors (Josh Britten, Boornazian, and Mike Newton) to pay homage to their successful Bobcat careers. But it was sophomore Justin Zukowski who was on fire Saturday evening. Zukowski drew two charges and splashed five threes en route to a career-high 19 points. Malcolm Delpeche said after the game, “He (Zukowski) was schwapping! I was really happy to see it, and it gave our team a big boost in the second half.”
Bates began the game strong, trailing by only four points at halftime. But after a three from captain Rick Naylor with 10:42 left in the second half, Trinity was up 56-33. Behind Zukowski’s energy off the bench, the Bobcats still battled and brought the game within 10 points with 3:32 remaining, as Boornazian, Newton, and Britten left it all out on the floor in their last game in Alumni Gymnasium. A win, however was not in the cards. Trinity came away with the 78-66 victory, led by senior Andrew Hurd.
Bates men’s basketball will finish out their regular season this week as they travel to Bowdoin on Tuesday and Williams on Sunday. They still have a chance at making the NESCAC playoff, but their fate is out of their hands.
Malcolm Delpeche is optimistic about their chances. “We just have to compete in our last two games, and hope the basketball gods are in our favor,” he said. Hopefully the Bobcats will make a return to the postseason.