LEWISTON — It is uncharted territory, but Bates men’s basketball won’t be dealing with unknown quantities in the NCAA Division III sectional round this weekend.

The Bobcats collide with NESCAC rival Trinity (Conn.) at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Staake Gymnasium on the campus of Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. Bates and Trinity have met 44 times over the past 68 years, including the Bantams’ 66-59 win Jan. 16 in East Hartford.

Bates won’t look beyond that, but if it survives, it would face either No. 4 Babson or No. 15 Johns Hopkins on Saturday night with a berth in the final four at stake. The Bobcats handed the host Beavers one of their two losses this season.

“I think we had an advantage in some ways playing these teams that had never seen us play, Bates coach Jon Furbush said. “Scouting is a really big factor in some of these outcomes. Now there’s going to be some familiarity with (Trinity), and them with us.”

After waiting nine days from the end of the NESCAC tournament to receive an at-large bid to its first NCAAs in 54 years, Bates (21-6) took advantage of the opportunity, ousting St. Vincent, 92-80, and regional host Richard Stockton, 68-59, in overtime.

Trinity (22-6) won its first and second-round games at home, rallying from a 16-point deficit to clip Colby-Sawyer, 60-55, and locking down Salisbury, 60-47.


The second game was typical of the Bantams, who won the NESCAC regular-season title over Bates and Bowdoin by a two-game margin on the strength of the league’s top scoring defense (62 points per game), best field-goal percentage defense (38.2 percent) and second-best rebounding margin (plus-8.2).

“They’re similar to us in that they build on their defense. The first time we played them, I feel like we struggled shooting the ball, but I feel like they did too,” Bates junior Mike Boornazian said. “I think we’ve improved a lot in our execution of plays on offense and in being able to get out in transition. That all starts from our defense. They’re going to see a different team this time around, but we also have to be prepared to see them bring their ‘A’ game, as well.”

Neither team topped 40 percent from the field during the regular-season meeting. Trinity held both of Bates’ leading scorers, Boornazian and Graham Safford, to 3-for-13 from the field.

Both teams exhibit size and scoring balance.

Junior guards Jaquann Starks tops Trinity with 13.6 points per game, but seniors Alex Conaway and George Papadeas, junior Shay Ajavi and sophomore Ed Ogundele all stand between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8 and average between 6.9 and 9.9 points.

Bates counters with the 6-5 Boornazian on the wing and sophomore identical twins Malcolm (6-8, 210 pounds) and Marcus (6-7, 205) Delpeche in the paint.


“That was a huge advantage last weekend. We out-rebounded both teams by 10-plus,” Furbush said. “Trinity’s just as big as we are, lengthwise. That won’t be an issue. The key will be who wants it more.”

Billy Selmon, Adam Philpott and Mike Newton also have given Bates strong production throughout the tournament.

“That’s great when you’ve got one through five stepping up, and guys coming off the bench having huge games,” Boornazian said. “It’s going to keep the defense on their toes, because they don’t know who to guard.”

Trinity has a more extensive postseason history than Bates but struggled similarly the past five years until this breakthrough season.

The Bantams last reached the second round in 2004, the third round in 1999 and the final four in 1995. This is their eighth tournament overall.

Double-digit runs bolstered the Bobcats in both games on the opening weekend.


“It would have been easy to be like, ‘Hey we’re here, we’re not expected to do much,’ but instead the guys said, ‘We’re here, let’s win a couple.’ That’s how we’re taking this next weekend too,” Safford said. “I think we owe (Trinity) one. We’re playing a lot better basketball now. Both teams take lot of pride in their defense. It’s going to be a battle.”

Compared to an eight-hour drive to New Jersey, the short jaunt to greater Boston is a home game in more ways than one.

Bates won a pre-Thanksgiving tournament at Babson. And the program has numerous alumni within a one-hour radius of the sectional site.

“I’ve been fielding calls and emails all week about how to get tickets,” Furbush said. “I anticipate a home-court environment. That will not be a problem.”

General admission seating goes on sale at 4 p.m.

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