Men's basketball wins an 81-80 thriller over Wesleyan in NESCAC opener

Senior Kody Greenhalgh hit the game-winning layup with two seconds left in regulation in the Bates men's basketball team's 81-80 win at Wesleyan on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Senior Kody Greenhalgh drove to the basket and hit a contested layup before time expired as the Bates men's basketball team claimed an 81-80 victory over Wesleyan University Sunday afternoon in the NESCAC opener for the Bobcats.

Down by four with only 15 seconds on the clock, Wesleyan's Antone Walker hit his first free throw before missing the second. Preston Maccoux got the offensive rebound and dished it out to Gabe Ravetz who drilled the three and was fouled on the play. He knocked down his free throw attempt with 11 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals the 80-79 lead.

Bates inbounded the ball and Greenhalgh (West Warwick, R.I.) took it to the basket, making an impressive contested layup for the win with just two seconds remaining. Wesleyan's last-second heave from half court was unsuccessful and the Bobcats (8-4, 1-0 NESCAC) celebrated their first win over the Cardinals (9-4, 0-2 NESCAC) since the 2014-15 season.

Greenhalgh led Bates with 18 points followed by senior Jeff Spellman (Boston, Mass.) with 15, senior Nick Gilpin (Hampden, Maine) with 12, and first-year Stephon Baxter (Worcester, Mass.) with 10. First-year Omar Sarr (Dakar, Senegal) led all players with nine boards and three blocks, and Gilpin dished out six assists.

Sunday's game featured 13 lead changes and 11 ties.

Both teams struggled offensively in the opening minutes but settled down roughly five minutes in as the half went back-and-forth throughout. Bates went up by four at the 8:01 mark but Ravetz hit back-to-back 3-pointers just 29 seconds apart to put the Cardinals ahead 27-25. 

Following a timeout, it was Greenhalgh's turn to get hot as he responded with back-to-back treys of his own just 43 seconds apart to put the visitors back on top. Walker scored 14 points in the first 20 minutes for Wesleyan on 4-of-4 shooting from downtown while Greenhalgh dropped 14 for the Bobcats on 4-of-8 shooting from deep.

Bates led 43-40 at halftime.

Trailing by three with 11:23 remaining, Wesleyan went on a 6-0 run capped off by a layup from Sam Peek to shift the momentum in the home team's favor. However, Bates responded shortly after by scoring 10 unanswered points to regain a lead and go up 73-66 with 4:31 to go.

A Spellman layup with 1:45 left put Bates up 77-70. But the Cardinals scored five unanswered to cut the lead to two with 23 seconds left. Spellman made a pair of free throws to put Bates up four, setting up the thrilling finish.

Walker scored a game-high 21 points for the Cardinals while dishing out six assists. He was joined in double-figures by Peek (12), Jordan James (11), and Ravetz (10). Maccoux led the team in rebounds with seven and Peek recorded three steals.

The Bobcats welcome Amherst to town Friday night for a 7pm tip at Alumni Gym.