Men's basketball falls to No. 6 Amherst, 82-71

Luke Matarazzo drives on Amherst's Aaron Toomey en route to a game-high 24 points against the Lord Jeffs on Jan. 18, 2014. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine – Senior Luke Matarazzo scored a game and season-high 24 points, but No. 6 nationally ranked Amherst pulled away from the Bates men's basketball team in the second half for an 82-71 win inside Alumni Gym on Saturday afternoon.

The Lord Jeffs (13-2, 4-0 NESCAC) shot 63 percent from the field in the second half, including 54 percent from behind the arc, to break open a 29-29 halftime tie as they outscored the Bobcats (8-6, 1-2) 53-42 in the second stanza.

Senior David Kalema (Burke, Va.) paced the visitors with 20 points while classmate Aaron Toomey (Greensboro, N.C.) tallied 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Fellow senior Tom Killian (Summit, N.J.) notched 13 points, classmate Connor Gach (Sarnac Lake, N.Y.) had 12, and junior Joseph Mussachia (Manchester, Mass.) collected a team-high eight rebounds.

Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) shot 8-of-18 from the floor and 8-of-8 on free throws in just his second start after missing nine games due to injury. Junior Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) posted his first double-double of the season behind 17 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) netted 12 points to go with seven boards.

Neither side could gain much separation in the first half as the two teams played within two possessions of one another for all but 26 seconds in the opening period. Amherst took a 24-17 lead with 4:36 left in the half off a Toomey jumper before Bates used a 12-2 run to stake a 29-26 edge. Toomey closed the half's scoring with a 3-pointer to knot the score at 29-29 at the break.

The Bobcats remained within 53-49 with 10:40 to play, but the Lord Jeffs rattled off 12 consecutive points to capture a 65-49 advantage with 8:27 remaining. Gach knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during the run while Toomey assisted on three of the team's four field goals.

Bates responded with eight straight points to cut its deficit to 65-57 with 6:14 to go, but Amherst answered with an 11-2 spurt to gain its largest lead of the game, 76-59, at the 2:22 mark. The Lord Jeffs went 8-for-8 from the foul line inside of the last four minutes to seal the game.

Next, Bates plays at undefeated Husson (13-0) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. while Amherst plays at Williams on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in a non-league game.