LEWISTON, Maine -- The No. 5 nationally ranked Middlebury men's basketball team downed Bates 78-65 on Saturday, extending the team's best-ever start at 13-0, 2-0 in conference play.
Nolan Thompson led four Bobcats in double figures with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Middlebury shot .706 from the field in the first half and finished at .595 for the game (25-42). Ryan Sharry added 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Ryan Wholey added 12 points and six boards, and Joey Kizel contributed 11 points.
Seniors Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass.) and Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine) scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the Bobcats (8-8, 0-2 NESCAC), who lost to their third straight ranked opponent, following losses to Brandeis and Williams this week. Sophomore Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass.) added 10 points.
Thompson and Peter Lynch combined for 13 points, hitting all six of their shots combined, to lead Middlebury to a 34-24 lead after one period. Kizel also scored seven points in the half, going 5-of-6 from the line. The Panthers hit 9-of-10 free throws in the period, while the Bobcats were just 2-for-7. Brust and Ellis went for eight and seven points, respectively, in the period, while junior Ryan Weston (Bangor, Maine) provided a spark with five points and three rebounds.
Bates fought to keep the deficit in single digits in the early going of the second half, but a 7-0 run midway through the period made it 60-43 with 8:47 to go, capped by a Thompson three. Bates clawed back in to as close as nine points (63-54),
Bates plays a non-conference game at St. Joseph's College of Maine on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Middlebury next plays at Hamilton on Tuesday at 7 p.m.