Men's basketball uses balanced effort to defeat Saint Joseph's College of Maine 84-69

First-year Omar Sarr recorded his first collegiate double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in the Bates men's basketball team's 84-69 victory over Saint Joseph's College of Maine on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Alumni Gym. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- First-year Stephon Baxter scored a team-high 15 points, first-year Omar Sarr tallied a double-double, and six different Bobcats scored in double figures to lead the Bates men's basketball team to an 84-69 victory Saturday over Saint Joseph's College of Maine.

Bates (5-1) is off to its best start since 2014-15, when the Bobcats last qualified for the NCAA tournament. 

Baxter (Worcester, Mass.) came off the bench to lead the Bobcats in the first half, scoring 12 of his 15 points. He dished out a game-high six assists and recorded a game-high four steals on defense. Sarr's (Dakar, Senegal) first collegiate double-double featured 10 points on 5-6 shooting and 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards. He was a force on defense as well, notching a game-high three blocked shots. 

Four other Bobcats also finished in double figures in the points column. Senior Jeff Spellman (Boston, Mass.) tallied 14 points and five assists. Sophomore Andrew Snoddy (Stow, Mass.) recorded 13 points on 6-9 shooting, grabbing six rebounds as well. Snoddy threw down a pair of emphatic dunks that got the crowd going at a packed Alumni Gym. Seniors Tom Coyne (Falmouth, Maine) and Nick Gilpin (Hampden, Maine) added 12 and 10 points respectively. Gilpin also tallied nine rebounds and four assists.

Jack Casale paced the Monks (2-5) with a game-high 19 points on 7-16 shooting. He also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. David Keohan scored 16 points and Nicholas Curtis added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Monks turned the ball over 20 times and the Bobcats scored 23 points off turnovers. On the other hand, the Bobcats turned the ball over 14 times and the Monks only scored 10 points off those turnovers. Bates out-rebounded the Monks 46-39, tallying 19 second chance points to the Monks' three. Bates shot 43.2% (35-81) from the floor and 31.4% (11-35) from three. The Monks shot 41.9% (26-62) from the floor and 30.8% (8-26) from three.

A Keohan layup with 12:45 left in the first half put the Monks up 13-11. But Coyne answered with a three just 40 seconds later and Saint Joseph's never led again.

With the score at 19-16 in favor of Bates after a Casale three-pointer with 11:03 left in the first half, the Bobcats opened up a 10-point lead with a 7-0 run. Snoddy converted a layup which was quickly followed by a Gilpin three. Another Snoddy layup with 9:21 to go made the score 26-16.

Casale made a pair of free throws with 5:33 left in the first half, cutting the Bobcat lead to 33-25. But Bates responded with a 12-0 run, putting the game essentially out of reach for the visitors by halftime.

A steal by Spellman set up a Gilpin dunk with 1:25 left, opening up a 45-25 lead. 

The Bobcats led 49-30 at the break. 

Spellman really got going on offense in the second half, scoring 10 of his 14 points. The Monks outscored Bates by four in the final 20 minutes of action but never got to within fewer than 13 points of the Bobcats.

The Bobcats are off for 11 days until they return to action against Scranton on Wednesday, December 18 at 8pm in Miami, Fla. at the D3 Holiday Shootout.