Spellman hits game-winner with 2.5 seconds left, men's basketball defeats Thomas College 75-73

Junior Jeff Spellman scored a team-high 17 points and hit the game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left in regulation on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 against Thomas College. (Samuel Mironko '21 for Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Junior Jeff Spellman backed down his defender and scored in the paint with 2.5 seconds left in the game to give the Bates men's basketball team a 75-73 victory over Thomas College Tuesday night at Alumni Gymnasium. 

Spellman (Boston, Mass.) paced the Bobcats (4-10) with 17 points on 6-11 shooting. He also dished out a game-high six assists in the win. Sophomore James Mortimer (Sudbury, Mass.) added 14 points on 5-6 shooting off the bench, scoring 12 points in the second half to help Bates erase a 40-32 halftime deficit. Senior captain Nick Lynch (Westford, Mass.) added 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Junior Kody Greenhalgh (West Warwick, R.I.) chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Evan Arsenault paced the Terriers (5-9) with a game-high 18 points. He knocked down six threes, four in the second half. Zach Mackinnon recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Lovegeurson Fleurine scored 12 points on 4-5 shooting and Jordan Goodson added 11 points on 4-6 shooting off the bench. 

Spellman converted a three-point play with 1:14 remaining in the game to put the Bobcats up 73-67. But the Terriers rallied, with Fleurine making a layup on the other end to cut the Bobcat lead to four with 1:05 left. Then Goodson recorded a steal and got fouled driving to the hoop. He sank both free throws to make the score 73-71 with 50 seconds remaining. After the Bobcats missed a shot on the other end, the Terriers got the rebound and Justin Butler drew a foul. Thomas was already in the bonus and Butler made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 73 with 23 seconds to go in regulation.

Bates called timeout and out of the timeout they got the ball to Spellman in the paint. He scored to give the Bobcats the lead. The Terriers called time with 2.5 seconds left. Out of the timeout, a first attempt at a baseball-style pass down the court got deflected out of play, taking 0.2 seconds off the clock. Their second inbounds play resulted in a shot from half court that fell short at the buzzer, securing the win for Bates.

Mackinnon hit three threes in the first half on his way to 11 of his 15 points, giving the Terriers an early spark. Thomas shot the ball at a 58.6% clip through the first 20 minutes. Bates struggled from the field to start the game, only shooting at 37% overall and 18.2% (2-11) from three in the first half. 

Lynch converted a three-point play to open the second half and with Bates down 41-35, Mortimer went on a personal 7-0 run to give the Bobcats a 42-41 lead on a three with 13:42 left in the game. He scored the Bobcats' next five points as well, dunking the ball with 11:38 remaining, which put Bates up 47-45. 

The Terriers went on a 4-0 run before senior captain Brandon Galloway (Fort Washington, Md.) drilled a three to put the Bobcats back on top by a count of 50-49 with 10:22 left.

Galloway's three started a 12-0 run for Bates that included a dunk from first-year Kenny Aruwajoye (Owo, Nigeria) and a Greenhalgh three.

The Terriers slowly chipped away at the 59-49 Bates lead, with Arsenault hitting four threes down the stretch, his last one getting the Terriers to within three at 70-67 with 1:36 left. Spellman answered on the other end before the Terriers made one last push, tying the game for a moment before Spellman's game-winner.

After their hot first half, the Terriers only shot the ball at a 35.7% clip in the final 20 minutes. The Bobcats turned the tables, heating up from the field to shoot 56.3% in the second half. 

Bates is back in action Friday night when the Bobcats host Middlebury at 7pm in NESCAC play.