LEWISTON — Bates hung tough with Middlebury for most of the first half. It needed to, as Middlebury averaged over 14 more points per game than the Bobcats headed into Friday’s showdown.

The Panthers finished the last 4:27 of the first half on a 17-4 run to bring a 10-point lead into halftime en route to a 100-93 win over Bates.

For Bates, the 93 points it put on the scoreboard Friday felt lower than it should have, even though it was 19.9 more than normal.

“We missed some shots at the basket that in league play and against a team like Middlebury you can’t afford to miss uncontested layups and go 55 percent at the foul line,” Bates head coach John Furbush said. “I also think we missed a few extra passes where we had a good shot but we could have had a great shot and I think the film will verify that. It’s crazy to say when you score 93 points that you left points on the table but I thought that we did.”

Bates’ center Nick Lynch was the player who kept Bates within striking distance with 12 points in the first half, eight of which came in the final 5:07 of the half as Middlebury started to pour it on. Lynch was a huge part of the Bates offense, hitting layups and mid-range jumpers which led to 25 points and 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

“Some of the points we left on the table were when he set a great ball screen and rolled and we just missed him,” Furbush said. “He got us a lot of points that don’t go in the stat sheet by rolling, drawing a defender then we hit a three. He had timely offensive rebounds.”

While Lynch dominated in the paint, the two NESCAC squads hit 17 total threes in the first half, with nine being from the corner, mostly off of drives and passes. Bates switched to a zone a few minutes into the half to force Middlebury to hit its shots from deep, and the Panthers did just that, hitting nine treys in the first 20 minutes.

“We were just fortunate that it was a great shooting night by multiple guys on our team and I thought Bates played very well,” Middlebury head coach Jeff Brown said. “We were just able to hit more shots on the offensive end. They were playing a zone and we were able to hit timely threes consistently to hold them off.”

As the first half wound down, Middlebury hit its stride with a 17-4 run to create a double-digit lead. Griffin Kornaker and Max Bosco hit two threes during the stretch to give the Panthers a much-needed momentum boost.

“That was the key of the game where we were able to get a double-digit lead at halftime,” Brown said.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Panthers were just as hot in the second half, as seven of their first eight field goals made were 3-pointers. Jack Farrell hit two in that stretch and finished with 20 points to go along with his eight assists.

Middlebury finished with 17 3-pointers, however Bates kept it close late, not letting the Panthers get too far out of arm’s reach as the Panthers could never increase a 13-point lead.

Middlebury needed an answer, and the answer came in the form of Bosco, who hit eight free throws down the stretch to finish with 28 points. The sophomore’s confidence at the charity stripe was huge for the Panthers.

“I just block everything out, focus on hitting the free throw and be confident going up,” Bosco said. “I just know I am going to hit it.”

Bates shot well from three at 51.7 percent with 26 total assists. For Furbush, the lightning plug recently for the Bobcat offense has been the return of Tom Coyne who finished with 17 points.

“I think we have played better offensively since Tom Coyne came back a couple weeks ago in New York,” Furbush said. “He gives us another weapon to spread the floor and I think in the last five games we are shooting at least 50 percent from three. I think we are shooting the ball a lot better with a healthier roster.”

Bates’ second-leading scorer was Kody Greenhalgh, who hit five treys for 18 points.

Middlebury had multiple threes from six different player,s with Farrell finishing with 20 points.

“We are swinging the ball around and everyone is contributing to open threes and we just keep going,” Bosco said. “It feels good.”

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