Men's basketball falls 78-72 to USM in tight season finale

Senior captain Eli Frater was one of four Bates men's basketball players playing their final games as Bobcats on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 against the University of Southern Maine. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Senior captain Max Hummel scored a season-high 20 points and the Bates men's basketball team nearly pulled off a big comeback, eventually falling 78-72 to the University of Southern Maine in the Bobcats' season finale Monday night at Alumni Gymnasium. 

Hummel (Glastonbury, Conn.) finished his collegiate career with one of his best games, shooting 8-15 from the floor and knocking down 4-10 three-pointers. He also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded a steal. Senior captain Nick Lynch (Westford, Mass.) also wrapped up his career with a big game, tallying a double-double. Lynch scored 12 points and pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds. Junior Jeff Spellman (Boston, Mass.) finished with 19 points on 7-14 shooting and sophomore James Mortimer (Sudbury, Mass.) added 11 points on 4-7 shooting off the bench.

The Huskies (6-17) got a big night from Christian McCue, who poured in a game-high 22 points. Sean Jany finished with 13 points on 5-11 shooting and Avaughn Brown hit four three-pointers off the bench to finish with 12 points.

Bates (7-17) fell behind 11-9 with 13:02 left in the first half on a Jany layup. The Bobcats spent the rest of the game trying to rally but they could never quite get over the hump.

USM opened up a 38-25 lead with 3:40 left in the first half before Bates made its move. Hummel drilled a three and made a layup to quickly cut the deficit to eight. Then Spellman and Hummel made back-to-back buckets, cutting the USM lead to 38-34 with 55 seconds left in the half. After Javon Pitts-Young split a pair of free throws to end the Bobcats' 9-0 run, Spellman answered on the other end with a three-point play to make the score 39-37.

Bates missed tying the game by a fraction of a second when Hummel released a shot that came just after the buzzer. The ball fell through the net but got waved off. Bates trailed 39-37 at the half.

After Spellman split a pair of free throws to start the second half, the Huskies went on a 6-0 run to go up 45-38. 

Then the teams traded buckets and mini-runs throughout most of the second half, with USM taking a 72-63 lead with 4:09 left on a McCue jumper. The Bobcats answered with a 7-0 run that featured five points from Spellman. Down 74-70 with one minute remaining after a Jany layup, Spellman delivered a clutch tip-in with 47 seconds left to once again cut the deficit to two.

Pitts-Young missed the front end of two one-and-ones down the stretch, giving the Bobcats multiple opportunities to tie the game. But they could not convert on offense and Kylani Lafleur made a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to clinch the win for the Huskies.

As one might expect, the game was very even statistically, with the Huskies shooting 41.2% from the field and the Bobcats shooting at a 40.6% clip. USM made 11-28 (39.3%) from three to the Bobcats' 9-26 (34.6%). USM had a slight edge in rebounding (47-40) and second chance points (11-5). 

The loss concludes Bates' season. Along with Hummel and Lynch, captains Brandon Galloway (Fort Washington, Md.) and Eli Frater (Brooklyn, N.Y.) played their finals games as Bobcats on Monday. Galloway hit a three, grabbed two rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded one steal. Frater grabbed a pair of rebounds, dished out four assists and also recorded one steal.