GORHAM, Maine -- The Bates men's basketball team recorded its most steals against an NCAA Division III opponent since 2004 and survived a singular effort from Southern Maine's Jacobe Thomas in a 71-68 victory over the Huskies Tuesday night at Hill Gymnasium.
Bates (2-1) tallied 16 steals as a team, including one late from senior Kody Greenhalgh (West Warwick, R.I.) that clinched the victory. Thomas scored half of USM's points, pouring in 34 on 13-22 shooting.
The Huskies (3-3) had a chance to win the game after Thomas hit a three with 40 seconds left in regulation, cutting the Bobcat lead to one at 69-68. Jay Roberts blocked a Bates layup attempt out of bounds off a Bobcat on the other end, giving USM the ball back with 17 seconds remaining.
But out of a timeout, Greenhalgh intercepted Roberts' pass and took it coast-to-coast for a layup, putting Bates up 71-68 with one second left on the clock. Thomas launched a desperation heave at the buzzer from three-quarters court that fell short and Bates emerged victorious.
Greenhalgh had a huge game, tying with fellow senior Jeff Spellman (Boston, Mass.) for the team-lead with 16 points. Greenhalgh made 6-11 shots, grabbed four rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and recorded four steals. 11 of Greenhalgh's 16 points came in the second half.
First-year Stephon Baxter (Worcester, Mass.) added 11 points, five rebounds, an assist and a game-high five steals. First-year Omar Sarr (Dakar, Senegal) recorded six points and a game-high eight rebounds. He also tallied a pair of steals and a blocked shot. Seven different Bobcats recorded at least one steal on Tuesday.
The Huskies turned the ball over 22 times overall and Bates recorded 25 points off turnovers. Meanwhile the Bobcats turned the ball over 15 times and USM finished with 15 points off turnovers.
USM got off to a hot start, taking an 11-4 lead with 15:07 left in the first half on a Cameron Wood layup. Wood finished with 14 points on 6-9 shooting. The Huskies led 13-7 with 11:25 left in the half when Spellman went on a personal 5-0 run to cut the lead to one with 10:21 remaining.
With the score at 14-12 in favor of the Huskies, the Bobcats went on a 9-0 run highlighted by six points for Baxter and a dunk from first-year Cam Riley (Sparta, N.J.).
Baxter split a pair of free throws with 6:54 left in the half, putting Bates up 21-14. But the Huskies answered with a 7-0 run, tying the contest with 4:44 remaining on an Ian Nagle layup.
Bates led 27-25 with 2:34 to go in the first half. And the Bobcats finished with a flourish, getting threes from Greenhalgh and Spellman down the stretch. Sarr's layup with three seconds left put the Bobcats up 35-25 at the break.
The Bobcats opened up a 41-28 lead with 17:26 to go in regulation on a Spellman jumper. USM refused to go away, clawing to within two after Thomas converted an old fashioned three-point play with 9:46 remaining.
Up 50-48, the Bobcats responded with three straight three-pointers. Greenhalgh and Baxter drilled back-to-back triples and senior Tom Coyne (Falmouth, Maine) extended the lead to 59-48 with 8:16 left.
The Bobcats seemed to have the game in-hand, matching their biggest lead of the contest at 67-54 on a Greenhalgh layup with 5:23 remaining. But the Huskies answered with a remarkable 11-0 run. Seven of the 11 points came from Thomas and Derek Haney's layup with 1:24 to go pulled USM to within two.
The Bobcats called timeout and put the ball into the hands of Spellman. He did not let them down, hitting a tough off-balance layup with 55 ticks left. Thomas' three made the score 69-68 before Greenhalgh's steal sealed the victory.
Bates is back in action Monday when the Bobcats visit Johnson & Wales (RI) for a 7pm tip.