The Middlebury men's basketball team suffered a 57-53 loss at Bates in the NESCAC opener for both squads. The Panthers (9-1, 0-1) will have Saturday off before a 2:00 p.m. tip-off at Tufts on Sunday afternoon. The Bobcats improve to 10-2 overall with the win and a 1-0 mark in league play.
Bates shot only 34.5 percent from the field and 16.7% from three-point land, but held the Panthers to 31.3% shooting overall, 21.4% behind the arc. Bates had a big advantage in free throws, making 16-22 (72.7%), while Middlebury made only 5-12 (41.7%).
Graham Safford led Bates with a game-high 20 points, while Mike Boornazian and Marcus Delpeche added 12 points and six rebounds apiece. Malcolm Delpeche grabbed 16 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a key performance for Bates, which outrebounded Middlebury by a slight 46-44 margin.
Dylan Sinnickson had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Middlebury, the only Panther to score in double figures. Jake Brown added nine points and three assists, while Nick Tarantino added seven.
Middlebury led 23-17 with 4:16 to go in the first half on a layup by Tarantino, but the Panthers were held scoreless for the rest of the half, while Bates finished the period with a 7-0 run to assume a 24-23 lead at the break.
Tarantino had all seven of his points in the first half to lead the Panthers, while Sinnickson had six. Safford and Marcus Delpeche had eight points apiece for the Bobcats, while Malcolm Delpeche had already collected 10 boards at the break.
Sinnickson started the second half with a layup in the opening minute to regain the lead for Middlebury. The teams traded hoops, and Boornazian's third bucket of the half gave Bates a 32-30 lead, which Sinnickson answered with a three-pointer from the wing for a 33-32 Panther lead, thelast of the game.
Marcus Delpeche sank a pair of free throws for a 34-33 Bates advantage, kicking off a 10-0 run, as the Bobcats held the Panthers scoreless over a span of 4:32. Three-pointers by Safford, off an inbounds pass from Boornazian, and Billy Selmon, whom Malcolm Delpeche found open in the left corner, opened up a 42-33 Bates lead with 9:43 left in the game.
Brown cut the deficit by himself over the next minute, driving for a layup and knocking down a three to make it 42-38. Bates scored six straight in response, but Middlebury answered with an 8-0 run starting with Brown's layup at 6:51, scoring on four-straight possessions while Bates suffered a miss and a pair of turnovers. Matt St. Amour made a layup, then fed Merryman for a jumper on an inbounds pass, and fed Sinnickson for another layup to make it a 48-46 game with 5:20 to go.
After a Safford layup made it 53-47 in Bates' favor, Sinnickson followed a Safford turnover with a putback. Malcolm Delpeche missed the front end of a one-and-one on Bates' next possession, and after Safford rebounded a miss by Sinnickson, he was fouled but missed both free throws. St. Amour streaked up the court for a quick layup to cut it to 53-51 with 23 seconds remaining. Safford was fouled again but made both foul shots to make it a two-possession game, and after a missed three by Merryman, Safford was fouled again and again made both free throws, giving Bates a 57-51 lead with 10 seconds to go. Brown's layup with four seconds remaining accounted for the final score.