Basketball Preview: Free admission to hoops heaven
This Saturday, the center of the NESCAC basketball world is in Lewiston, where Bates College is the lone school in the New England Small College Athletic Conference to host both a men’s and women’s quarterfinal playoff game.
The action tips off at 2 p.m. inside cozy Alumni Gymnasium, as the top-seeded Bates women’s team takes on eighth-seeded Colby College. That game will be followed at 4 p.m. with the Bates men, seeded at No. 4 in the league, hosting No. 5 Bowdoin.
Admission is free for both games, and both games will also be webcast on www.BatesCast.com.
It’s not the first time Bates has hosted a doubleheader like this; just last season, the No. 3 Bates men downed No. 6 Williams 76-73 in overtime, followed by the No. 2 Bates women routing No. 7 Tufts 61-37. Both Bates, it turned out, were on their way to the NESCAC championship game.
But Saturday’s doubleheader has the added intrigue of involving all league rivals from Maine.
“It’s the CBB almost, which is really, really exciting,” said Bates head women’s coach Jim Murphy.
Following is a look ahead at both matchups:
NESCAC Women’s Basketball Quarterfinal
No. 8 Colby (10-14, 2-7 NESCAC) at No. 1 Bates (17-7, 8-1 NESCAC); 2 p.m., Alumni Gym
|There’s no hiding the fact that the Bates women’s basketball team is just more comfortable playing at home in Alumni Gymnasium.|
These two teams have met twice this season, with Bates winning both times (62-52 at Colby on Jan. 4, and 61-37 at Bates in the league matchup on Jan. 14).
The Mules may have had some growing pains under first-year head coach Lori Gear McBride, a former NCAA Division I champion as a player at North Carolina, but they came together at the right time in their last league game this past Saturday, when they won 61-38 at Middlebury, beating the Panthers out for the last spot in the playoffs.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, have locked down defensively since losing at Bowdoin in a non-league contest on Jan. 31, winning their last three games against Tufts, Amherst and Trinity by an average score of 79.0-44.7. Bates finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in team defense in league play, giving up 50.9 points per game.
“The key for us to is keep playing the same type of defense we’ve been playing,” said Murphy. “We have to make Colby earn every point they get.”
If the Bobcats get by the Mules, they’ll host the NESCAC semifinals and championship game next Saturday and Sunday.
“Home court is huge for us,” said Murphy. “We’re so much more comfortable playing in Alumni Gym.”
Scoring — Colby: Katie McCabe (12.5 ppg), Tracy Nale (8.6), Kate Emery (7.4), Regina Wohl (6.9), Alanna Balboni (5.1); Bates: Meg Coffin (17.4 ppg), Matia Kostakis (12.5), Jackie Powers (9.2),
Val Beckwith (8.7), Sarah Barton (7.7)
Rebounding — Colby: Katie McCabe (6.8 rpg), Kate Emery (6.4), Alanna Balboni (5.4); Bates: Meg Coffin (10.6 rpg), Matia Kostakis (7.3), Sarah Barton (4.7)
Assists — Colby: Tanya Rosbash (3.4 apg), Kathleen Nicholson (1.7), Kate Emery (1.5); Bates: Sarah Barton (6.9 apg), Meg Coffin (2.1), Becca Buckler (1.8)
Field Goal Percentage — Colby: Meg Davis (.600), Katie McCabe (.525), Jackie Grady (.440); Bates: Meg Coffin (.583), Val Beckwith (.481), Matia Kostakis (.423).
NESCAC Men’s Basketball Quarterfinal
No. 5 Bowdoin (16-8, 5-4 NESCAC) at No. 4 Bates (19-5, 6-3 NESCAC); 4 p.m., Alumni Gym
|The Bates men’s basketball team comes together Saturday for what will likely be its last home game of the season.|
The 2005-06 men’s basketball season at Bates has already been a successful one by historical proportions. The Bobcats have won more regular season games than any other team in the program’s history, and they captured the first CBB sweep, going 4-0 against Colby and Bowdoin, since Colby pulled off the feat six years ago. Plus, their 16-game winning streak that stretched from November into February exceeded the program’s previous best by seven games, or 78 percent.
A third win over a tough Bowdoin team would add another historical accomplishment: it would mean Bates’ first-ever 20-win season, and of course set a new program record for wins in a season. They’re currently tied for that honor with last year’s 19-8 squad.
Bates routed Bowdoin 88-62 in the teams’ non-league matchup in Lewiston on Dec. 6, then staved off a furious comeback attempt in the league matchup at Brunswick on Jan. 13, winning 57-54.
This game is looking like a humdinger. The Polar Bears may be playing their best basketball of the season, entering this game with three straight wins over Middlebury, Williams and a tough St. Joseph’s team. The Williams win nudged them ahead of the Ephs in the tournament seedings.
The Bobcats have lost three straight games, but looks may be deceiving. All three of those games were on the road against excellent teams in Tufts, Amherst and Trinity. The confidence of being one of the league’s top teams and one of the school’s best-ever squads should remain high.
Look for Bates to reassert itself at the defensive end and on the glass, where the Bobcats have ranked among the top teams in Division III all season long.
“It’s a great rivalry we have with Bowdoin, and we know we really have to show up and refocus on fundamental basketball to beat them again,” said Bates head coach Joe Reilly.
Scoring — Bowdoin: Kyle Petrie (16.4 ppg), Andrew Hippert (13.3), Kevin Bradley (10.2), Andrew Sargeantson (9.2), Jordan Fliegel (8.9); Bates: Rob Stockwell (15.8 ppg), Bryan Wholey (13.3), Zak Ray (11.8), Pat Halloran (7.3), Sean Cahill (7.2).
Rebounding — Bowdoin: Kyle Petrie (6.9 rpg), Jordan Fliegel (5.2), Andrew Sargeantson (5.1); Bates: Rob Stockwell (9.8 rpg), Matt Chudomel (4.3), Bryan Wholey (4.3).
Assists — Bowdoin: Kevin Bradley (4.2 apg), Kyle Petrie (3.4), Andrew Sargeantson (2.2); Bates: Zak Ray (5.6 apg), Sean Cahill (2.1), Rob Stockwell (2.0).
Field Goal Percentage — Bowdoin: Andrew Sargeantson (.551), Antwan Phillips (.500), Kyle Petrie (.497); Bates: Sam Taylor (.603), Matt Chudomel (.523), Thomas Kothe (.500).