GORHAM, Maine – Junior captain Graham Safford scored a game-high 18 points to lead five Bobcats in double figures as Bates College men's basketball defeated the University of Southern Maine, 79-68, in Hill Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The Bobcats (5-1) held a double-digit lead over the final 22:39 of the game and beat the Huskies (3-2) for the first time since Nov. 24, 2009 after dropping the previous three meetings.
Safford (Hampden, Maine) hit 7-of-15 shots from the floor and added four rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) totaled 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists while junior Billy Selmon (Atlanta, Ga.) netted 12 points.
Senior captain Sean Cunningham (Amherst, Mass.) compiled 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, five rebounds, and three assists, and junior Adam Philpott (Gloucester, Mass.) registered 11 points off the bench.
For the Huskies, Conor Sullivan notched a double-double on 16 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. James Odneal and Cole Libby each posted 13 points, and Tyler Penney had 12.
With the game tied at 9-9, the Bobcats went on an 11-0 run to take a 20-9 lead at the 9:36 mark with Safford scoring nine of the team's 20 points during that stretch. Bates pushed its advantage to 34-17 with 4:31 left in the first half after a Boornazian 3-pointer from the wing and a crafty layup from Selmon on the left side.
The Huskies responded with an 8-0 run to pull within 34-25 with just over three minutes to play in the opening half. A 3-pointer from Philpott later gave the Bobcats a 39-25 edge as he scored the team's last five points in the period and Bates brought a 41-29 lead into the break.
Bates extended its advantage to 56-38 with 14:23 to play after scoring eight consecutive points including two 3-pointers from Boornazian and a Cunningham jumper, exposing gaps in the USM zone. The visitors pushed their edge to as large as 19 points at 59-40 with 11:50 remaining. The Huskies cut their deficit to 10 points on three occasions in the second half – as late as 74-64 with 3:19 left.
Bates returns to play at Colby on Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and travels to Bowdoin the next night for a 7:00 p.m. tip.