That individual matchup never materialized, but the game lived up to its billing anyway, with host Bates holding on for a thrilling 73-69 victory at Alumni Gym.

It was the second meeting of the season for the two schools, as Colby (10-2, 0-1 in NESCAC) won on its home floor, 78-74 in overtime, on December 12. That one didn’t count toward conference standings, but was nonetheless a nail-biter between rivals.

“NESCAC play, it’s minor tweaks that are the difference between winning and losing,” Bates head coach Jon Furbush said. “You got to throw stats out the window when you’re playing a rival like Colby. It’s going to be a war. These guys stayed to the plan. No matter what the score was — there was some highs and lows — but they stayed the course, stayed poised, and as a result we got the win.”

With early conference positioning on the line, Bates (8-5, 1-0 NESCAC) came out on top. It was less heralded players than Boornazian that lifted the Bobcats to the win.

Josh Britten scored a game-high 18 points — all on 3-pointers — and filled out the stat sheet with two assists, two rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Shawn Strickland added 14 points, including a game-sealing 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 16.4 seconds left.

Britten gave the Bobcats the lead for good on a 3 with just over four minutes left. That came after Marcus Delpeche threw down a dunk to get the home crowd going and get Bates within 67-65. In between the two momentum-shifting baskets, Britten was called for a foul, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass to spark the possession that ended with his go-ahead 3.

“I wanted it so badly,” Britten said of his timely steal. “(The referees are) calling a different game this year, so the fouls are a little tough on all of us. Sometimes it just lights a little more fire underneath you.”

The Bobcats stretched their lead to 70-67 on layup by Mike Newton (11 points), but the Mules cut it back to one on a pair of Sam Willson free throws in the final minute. Bates then used used all 30 seconds on the shot clock before Strickland hit his dagger.

“He’s built my confidence. I knew it was in,” Furbush said of Strickland. “He’s got ice in his veins.”

It was a welcome comeback and finish for Furbush to see, after his team kept it close in the first half but couldn’t quite keep pace with the Mules. The deficit was just three at halftime, but Bates led for just 80 seconds of the 20-minute period — which also saw five ties.

“We just had to trust the process, stick to our game plan,” Britten said. “We were playing a little strayed from our game plan, so we just really had to focus in, focus on the details, the little things, because that’s what wins ball games.”

Britten was part of the up-and-down first half for the Bobcats. He made 2 of 4 from behind the arc to match Bates’ efficiency as a team, at 50 percent. He was 4 for 11 from 3 in the second half.

“As of late, he’s really been shooting the ball a lot better with confidence. He has the green light in my book,” Furbush said of Britten. “When he’s shooting the ball like that we’re going to be tough to beat.”

The Bobcats proved they were tough to beat, as the Mules did all they could to keep them down but couldn’t do it for 40 minutes. Furbush said his team simply made big shots at the end while Colby didn’t.

Boornazian did finish with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists, after averaging 15.0, 5.5 and 3.0 in his award-earning week last week. Jann was held to seven points on 2-for-12 shooting. Luke Westman led the Mules with 14 points, and Willson added 12.

With the win, Bates now brings a four-game winning streak into Saturday’s game against rival Bowdoin.

“On our home court, first night of NESCAC season, it was great to get a win,” Britten said.

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