University of Maine at Farmington forward Milani Hicks (22) goes up for shot as Bates College center Kenny Aruwajoye (12) intervenes during men’s basketball game at Alumni Gymnasium in Lewiston on Tuesday night. (Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi)

LEWISTON — It was almost as if the University of Maine at Farmington peaked in the first half against Bates College in a men’s basketball game at Alumni Gymnasium on Tuesday night.

UMF (15-6) started poking holes in Bates’ zone defense and built a lead before the Bobcats (7-15) made the necessary adjustments and shook off the Beavers, 73-65.

“They figured out how to carve our zone up in the first half, and then we decided to do some trapping in the second half and just try to get them out of their rhythm — and I think it was effective for the most part,” Bates coach Jon Furbush said. “We just switched up our coverage on the ball and just tried to make them throw long, skip passes where they get some turnovers and made some easier baskets for us, but they were having a way too easy success in the first half.

“I thought down the stretch a bunch of different guys made some big shots. Nick Gilpin threw in a 3, Tom Coyne got hot late. We got some timely stops and made some big baskets on the offensive side when it really mattered.

“I think UMF is really good. They are going to be in the NAC championship game. I think (UMF coach (Dick) Meader is as good a coach as I have ever coached against. He gets a lot out of his guys and are very disciplined and that’s a great ball club.”

In the first half, the Beavers ran the court, leading by much as 12 points before Bates started making a run at UMF, which led 36-33 at halftime.

But the Bobcats were just getting started, and in the second half and went on an 11-0 run that started with center Nick Lynch’s second dunk and 3-pointers from guards Malik Velmar and Kody Greenhalgh, giving Bates a 46-41 lead with 13:20 remaining in the game. Greenhalgh (four 3-pointers) and Lynch each scored 16 points.

Bates continued to ratchet up its defensive game and built a 62-56 lead on a Coyne (12 points, three 3s) basket with 4:36 left in the game.

UMF moved to within two points, 64-62, with 3:28 left in the game on forward Bill Ruby’s back-to-back 3-pointers.

“We played well until about the 5-minute mark of the first half,” Meader said, “and we just didn’t move the ball quick enough and they ran a streak of four bombs.

“We were slow on the delivery. We just faked it … it was just a struggle that way. No excuses. We have to get ready for conferences with three conference teams coming up. We just have to get out and win those games.”

Ruby scored the game-high 27 points, 10-for-16 in shooting and led the team in rebounds with nine. Junior guard Amir Moss scored 15 points and junior forward Riley Robinson helped out with 13. Junior guard Isaac Witham was credited with six assists.

The Bobcats started pulling away again with three minutes left when Gilpin (10 points) dropped in a 3-pointer, and then Coyne delivered a pair of 3s with less than two minutes left.

Bates College’s Brandon Galloway (4) tries to get around the University of Maine at Farmington’s Bill Ruby in a basketball game at Alumni Gymnasium in Lewiston on Tuesday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi)

UMF’s Isaac Witham (11) looks to pass the ball as Bates’ Kody Greenhaulgh (0) closes in during a basketball game at Alumni Gymnasium in Lewiston on Tuesday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi)

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