Wholey, O’Keefe lead Bates men against tough Saints
|Bryan Wholey ’08 led Bates with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.|
BABSON PARK, Mass. — St. Lawrence University went on an 18-6 run in the second half to take a 57-49 lead, and went on to defeat Bates College 72-63 in the season opener for both teams at the Babson College Men’s Basketball Invitational on Friday.
Bates (0-1) will play tournament host Babson tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the consolation game. St. Lawrence will take on Connecticut College in the championship game at 3 p.m. Connecticut College edged Babson 53-52 in the tournament’s opening game on Friday.
Bates never trailed in the first half, and took a 29-28 lead into the break. The Bobcats then continued to maintain the advantage early in the second half until sophomore Andy Hoercher hit a pair of free throws to give SLU its first lead of the contest, 46-45, with 12:14 remaining. The Saints never relinquished that advantage, going up by as many as 10 (61-51) on a Wopperer lay-up with four minutes left. Bates senior Pat Halloran (Plymouth, N.H.) kept the Bobcats within striking distance with three clutch trifectas over the next three minutes, including one that made it a 67-62 game with 1:01 on the clock, but Hoercher and sophomore Josh Sharlow combined to shoot 5-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch as SLU held on for the 72-63 victory.
The Saints, who were 23-6 last season and competed in the NCAA Championships, shot 53.2 percent from the floor, including 7-for-15 behind the arc. Tom Wopperer scored a game-high 25 points, shooting 10-14 overall and 5-7 on 3-pointers. Bela Vonnak added 19 points on 8-of-9 field goal shooting to go with 7 rebounds.
Bates, which finished 18-7 last season, received 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists from senior Bryan Wholey (Marshfield, Mass.), while sophomore Jimmy O’Keefe (Lexington, Mass.) chipped in 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor. The Bobcats shot 54 percent in the first half, building a lead as high as 10 points.
It is Bates’ first loss in a mid-season tournament contest since Dec. 30, 2002, snapping a 20-game winning streak in those games.
Sophomore Chris Wilson (Brewer, Maine) chipped in seven points and five assists for Bates. First-year Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) had an impressive collegiate debut with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.