LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Jeff Spellman scored a career-high 38 points as the Bates men's basketball team overcame cold outside shooting and the University of New England's frenetic style of play to defeat the Nor'easters 107-103 Sunday evening in the Bobcats' home opener at Alumni Gym.
Bates (3-1) won its third straight game despite making a season-low 1-of-19 shots from three-point range (.053), while UNE (1-4) made 14-of-46 from beyond the arc (.304). But Bates outrebounded UNE 59-40 and shot an even .500 (42-84) from the field overall, while limiting UNE to a .434 team field-goal percentage (36-83).
Junior guard Eli Frater (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and first-year swingman James Mortimer (Sudbury, Mass.) also registered career-highs in scoring, with Frater making 8-of-10 shots en route to 19 points and Mortimer adding 13 points with seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Nick Gilpin (Hampden, Maine) totaled 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and junior guard Max Hummel (Glastonbury, Conn.) added nine points and nine rebounds.
UNE senior Gavin Dibble led four Nor'easters in double figures with 14 points. Jordan Bagshaw, Drew Coveney and Daron Hoges Jr. added 11 points apiece.
The Nor'easters forced a frantic tempo for almost the entire game, consistently shooting early in the shot clock and employing a full-court press on defense that allowed the Bobcats a bevy of layups -- the hosts totaled 82 points in the paint. UNE substituted entire lineups every few minutes: 18 players saw action and only Dibble (24 minutes) logged more than 16 minutes in the game.
The game featured 13 ties and 23 lead changes, and the Nor'easters' 16-8 and 20-12 leads inside the first five minutes represented the largest margin of the game.
UNE built the early advantage as Bagshaw made two 3-pointers while Ryan Matthews and Drew Muniz made one apiece. But an 8-0 Bates run over the next two minutes, with two layups by Spellman (Boston, Mass.) and a tip-in by Mortimer, quickly tied the game. Bates first-year Malik Velmar's (Yorktown, Va.) foul shot made it 58-58, eighth and final tie of the first half, and Hummel converted a three-point play as time expired on the period, for a 61-58 Bates edge at the break.
Bates outscored UNE 46-18 in the paint for the period, but UNE's 9-of-22 shooting from three-point territory had the teams neck and neck. Dibble led UNE with 12 points in the half; for Bates, Spellman (14), Frater (13) and Mortimer (12) had all reached double figures.
UNE opened the second half with another flurry of threes: Bagshaw, Kyle Frank, Matt Hobbs, and Sean Walsh all made triples to give the Nor'easters a 74-69 lead at the 16:15 mark. Bates tied the game back up at 78-78 after consecutive layups by Frater and a free throw by junior forward Brandon Galloway (Fort Washington, Md.), and the difference between the teams stayed under five points the rest of the way.
The scoring slowed down over the final five minutes, but UNE outscored Bates 9-3 from the 6:07 mark to 3:48, a run capped as Coveney kicked out to Andrew Marcelino for a three, then followed a Bates turnover with a jump shot assisted by Marcelino for a 101-98 UNE lead. But after a Nore'aster turnover and a Bates defensive stop, Gilpin fed Spellman for a fast-break layup, making it 101-100 with 2:06 remaining. After a UNE timeout and a Dibble miss, Bates sophomore Tom Coyne (Falmouth, Maine) fed Galloway with his sixth assist of the game for a layup and a 102-101 Bates lead. UNE's sixth consecutive miss was followed by a Coyne free throw with 29.9 seconds to go.
Dibble was stripped in the lane by Gilpin with 21 seconds to go, and Spellman drained a pair of free throws for a 105-101 lead. Coveney made it a two-point game again with a layup with 11 seconds to go, but Gilpin again found Spellman for a transition layup with seven seconds left. A final missed three by UNE ended the game.
Bates next hosts Husson in a non-conference game on Dec. 5 at 8pm.
Spellman's 38 points were the most by a Bates player since Mike Boornazian scored 39 at Connecticut College in 2014. The sophomore was 0-for-5 from three-point territory but shot 16-for-25 overall, for the most field goals by a Bobcat since at least the 1999-00 season.