LEWISTON – Eight isn’t enough.

Bates College matched a school-record winning streak to start a men’s basketball season, putting the University of Maine at Farmington on the ropes from the opening tap and pounding out a 76-56 victory Thursday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Bobcats are 8-0 headed into their traditional four-week break for final exams and holiday celebrations, but November and December perfection doesn’t get pulses racing around here.

Bates’ five seniors and three juniors enjoyed the same record when they changed their wall calendars two winters ago, and six or seven-win first semesters have been commonplace in Coach Joe Reilly’s tenure.

“We’re not satisfied at all,” said senior forward Rob Stockwell, who led Bates with 21 points and 12 rebounds. “We wanted to stay undefeated, but now we have six more practices and eight days off, and after that we need to get right back at it. We’ve played some good halves. We need to play a full game.”

UMF (2-3) took Bates’ best haymakers in the first half, when the Bobcats bolted to an 11-0 lead and twice held the Beavers scoreless for a span of more than four minutes.

Junior Bryan Wholey scored 16 of his 19 points before the break, dropping three of the Bobcats’ 10 3-pointers. Pat Halloran nailed three of his five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 20 points.

“We try to come out playing as hard as we can to get up early and make it a little easier game,” Halloran said. “We did a good job finding the open man and getting the open shot. Tonight it was me. Another day it could be somebody else.”

Zak Ray took charge of that ball distribution. While the stellar senior point guard endured an 0-for-8 night from the field, the other components of his game didn’t suffer. Ray dished out 10 assists and made three steals. His quickness gave young UMF fits defensively.

“They make the hardest cuts of any team we face,” said UMF coach Dick Meader. “They make you guard a long distance. We did a better job in the second half when we started to switch more. It’s a matter of our young guys learning to trust each other.”

Only one senior, Tyler Tracy, saw the floor for Farmington.

Junior Isaac Hutchinson led the Beavers with 17 points. Freshman Josh Tanguay added 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Sean Fry of Jay chalked up 10 points and eight boards.

Bates led 45-25 at halftime and increased that advantage to 21 when Ray’s steal and behind-the-back pass set up Wholey for an uncontested lay-up and a 54-33 cushion with 14:21 remaining.

Fry, Ted Neil and Tanguay combined for every point in an ensuing 11-2 UMF run. After Ray and Wholey’s highlight-film play, the Beavers held Bates to only two field goals in the next nine minutes and cut the gap to 56-44.

Stockwell and Halloran hooked up for nine quick, unanswered points to pull away. Ray finished that flourish with a steal and a feed to Halloran for a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner.

“This is the deepest team we’ve had in my memory,” Stockwell said. “(Other teams) can’t shut down everything.”

While Bates gets ready to hit the books and then head home for family festivities, UMF presses on through a rugged non-conference schedule.

The Beavers face the University of New England and Saint Joseph’s before a rare trip to Orono to face its Division I big brother in the state university system next Thursday.

“Other than Maine, this is probably the most difficult game on our schedule,” Meader said. “Two years, we came in here when Bates was 7-0 and upset them, so we knew they wouldn’t want to let that happen again.”


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