Bates men can't claw back all the way against Huskies

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LEWISTON, Maine — Alex Kee led four players in double figures with 21 points, as the University of Southern Maine overcame a 13-point first-half deficit to beat Bates College 71-66 in a non-conference battle of undefeated men's basketball teams Tuesday night in Alumni Gymnasium.

Kee also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists, while James Odneal added 18 points, 10 boards, two blocks and two steals for the Huskies (3-0). Odneal helped stake USM to a 39-33 lead after one period with his 4-for-4 three-point shooting in the half, leading to 16 points.

Conor Sullivan added 13 points, seven boards and four assists for USM, and Mike Poulin pitched in 11 points.

Thanks to Odneal's unconscious shooting in the first half, the Huskies shot 6-of-9 on three-pointers in the period, finishing the game 7-of-19 (.368) behind the arc and 27-of-57 (.474) from the field overall. Bates struggled to find its mark from deep throughout the game, hitting just 4-of-25 (.160), and 25-of-63 (.397) overall.

Bates senior Ed Bogdanovich (Portland, Maine) had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats with his second straight double-double. Senior Mark Brust (Dusbury, Mass.) added 10 points. First-year Mike Boornazian (Portland, Conn.) added nine points, eight boards, three assists and two blocked shots, while sophomore Graham Safford (Hampden, Maine) contributed nine points, five boards, three assists and three steals.

Bates led 10-4 at the 15:16 mark when Brust found senior Taylor Gartley (Rockport, Maine) open for a layup. A pair of foul shots by Brandon Graham, followed by a Tanner Storey layup, closed the gap to 10-8, but a corner three by Boornazian, followed by a steal and layup by sophomore Billy Selmon (Atlanta, Ga.), ignited an 11-0 Bates run. Junior Sean Cunningham (Amherst, Mass.) made a steal and a fast-break layup at the other end, and Safford capped the streak by stripping Sullivan of the ball in USM's backcourt and rising for a dunk to make it 21-8 with 10:46 remaining in the half.

But Kee answered with back-to-back threes, and USM charged back to whittle the lead all the way down to a point over the next five minutes, with Kee pouring in 10 points in that span, including a jumper that closed Bates' lead to 27-26, prompting a timeout from Bates head coach Jon Furbush at the 5:35 mark.

Boornazian missed a three out of the timeout, and Odneal made a three at the other end to put the Huskies in the lead for the first time, at 29-27 with 4:57 left. Odneal drained two more trifectas before the end of the half, one to make it 32-27 with 4:15 to go and the final one putting USM in a 37-29 edge with 2:00 showing on the clock.

Junior Luke Matarazzo (Shelton, Conn.) set up Brust for a three-pointer with 18 seconds left in the period, but USM's Jeremy Chambers made a jumper six seconds before the buzzer for a 39-33 halftime lead for the Huskies, who outscored the Bobcats 31-12 over the final 10:30 of the period.

Bates cut the lead to 39-36 in the early going of the second half, but Poulin's three-point play bumped it back to six points, starting another Husky run. USM made seven of its next 10 field goal attempts until it stood with a 55-41 lead with 13:05 left in the game.

Bates finally came out of it, cutting the lead to 11 before junior Derek Murphy (Lowell, Mass.) hit back-to-back threes, compelling USM coach Karl Henrikson to call for time. Bates kept up the pressure, though, forcing a turnover and getting a transition layup by Cunningham to make it 57-52 with 9:38 left.

Sullivan made two straight hoops for USM for a 64-54 lead with 6:36 to go, but Bates still wasn't through. Boornazian followed a Bogdanovich hoop underneath with a wrap-around layup to cut it to 64-58, and then Boornazian assisted Bogdanovich to answer a jumper by Poulin. A steal and two free throws by Safford closed the lead to 66-62 wiht 3:41 left, and neither team could score again until Boornazian's baseline 10-foot jumper cut the lead in half to two points, at 66-64, with 1:25 left.

The teams traded two points apiece — two free thrwos by Kee, followed by a quick layup by Safford, making it 68-66 with 14 seconds left. Bates was forced again to foul Kee, however, and the senior drained two straight again to make it a two-possession game with 13 seconds to go, at 70-66. Brust missed a deep three, and Poulin made one of two foul shots at the other end to ice the win at 71-66.

Bates stays at home to face Rhode Island College on Sunday at 2pm (Live Stats / Video).