Bates men seek to continue stellar season with upset at Amherst

2006 NESCAC Men's Basketball  Championship

Semifinals - Saturday, February 25, 2006
No. 4 Bates at No. 1 Amherst - 2 p.m.

No. 3 Tufts vs. No. 2 Trinity - 4 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, February 26, 2006
Semifinals winners at Amherst, 12 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College men's basketball team continues the winningest season in school history into the NESCAC Semifinals Saturday at Amherst College's LeFrak Gymnasium. There, the fourth-seeded Bobcats, the host and top-seeded Lord Jeffs, No. 2 Trinity and No. 3 Tufts will gather to decide the conference championship.

This is the third consecutive appearance in the NESCAC semifinals for the Bobcats, who have already broken last season’s program record for wins in a season with 20.

But they face a stiff challenge in the semifinal round in the high-powered Lord Jeffs (23-2), who bounced Bates convincingly last weekend and are ranked fifth in the country by D3Hoops.com. Amherst ranks among the top 30 in Division III in eight major statistical team categories, including second overall in average scoring margin (+21.6).

Bates has versatility on the offensive end, with post players like junior Rob Stockwell and senior Matt Chudomel complementing its three starting guards, junior Zak Ray, sophomore Bryan Wholey and senior Sean Cahill, all of whom are adept at knocking down the three, as is sophomore reserve Pat Halloran, who rates a team-best .433 behind the arc.

But the team’s hallmark this season has been defense: while the Bobcats block a league-low 1.56 shots per game, they rank first in the NESCAC in scoring defense (61.0 ppg) and second in rebounding margin (+7.6).

Click here for the official New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship preview of this weekend's men's basketball tournament.