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Men’s basketball clinches NESCAC win against Bates College in double OT standoff

February 9, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
ON THE DOUBLE: Afamdi Achufusi ’25 leaps towards the hoop. The men’s basketball team won against Bates in double overtime to secure its first NESCAC win of the season.

Last Friday, the men’s basketball team (7–14; 1–6 NESCAC) seized its first NESCAC win this season against Bates College (3–18; 0–7 NESCAC) in Morrell Gym. The team is looking to translate this home court energy into road wins at its final games against Hamilton College (10–12; 3–5 NESCAC) and Amherst College (13–9; 4–4 NESCAC) this weekend.

Dealing with a season full of injuries, concussions and resets, the team has had to work hard for its wins.

“We were struggling in conference play a little bit and we felt like we were a better team than we’ve been able to show,” wing Afamdi Achufusi ’25 said.

With a strong Friday night crowd for senior weekend, Achufusi felt the home game against Bates provided the perfect setup to boost team morale.

Bowdoin started out strong, quickly forcing Bates out of its zone defense.

“We do a great job of not just hunting three point shots against the zone. We’re patient. Our bigs do a good job of finding pockets on the interior and it puts a lot of pressure on the zone because we pretty successfully hunt out layups or threes,” Head Coach Alex Lloyd said.

Bates crept back to 29–29 by the half. The Polar Bears burst out again after halftime to bring it to 43–30, buoyed by strong three-point shooting, especially from Ben Chilson ’27, who went six for nine to score 18 points. From there, Bates clawed its way back to a three-point lead with a minute on the clock. With three seconds left, Alex Halpern ’26 sank a deep three to send the game into overtime.

“We’d been playing from behind and I felt like after [Halpern] hit that shot, we would be able to get into overtime and win the game…. We had to battle back a little bit but that shot kind of put us over there,” guard Michael Simonds ’24 said.

Bates didn’t stop fighting, leaving Bowdoin with one minute left in the first overtime to resolve a five-point deficit. The Polar Bears came back again, saved by a pair of exciting free throws from Achufusi.

“I know I really wanted to win that game. I know my team really wanted to win that game,” Achufusi said.

In the second overtime, Bowdoin built a lead with a 7–2 run initiated by two buckets from Simonds, which secured the 90–87 win.  Lloyd thought the victory showed the players’ strength amidst a challenging season.

“We were able to stay composed, stay connected and respond and different players at different times made huge plays.… That type of resolve and resilience was terrific for our group,” Lloyd said.

For seniors Simonds and Zach Goffin ’24, leaving the last weekend of home games with a win over a Colby-Bates-Bowdoin opponent was an amazing feeling.

“It’s my last weekend playing basketball, which I’ve done for 12, 13 years of my life. So I think that’s going to be a bittersweet moment but really fun to be able to finally play my last game…. Let’s go out there and give it everything we have,” Simonds said.

Preparation for this weekend’s games will be like any other—watching film, planning to target the weaknesses in the other teams’ defense and honing in on every play.

“Limiting turnovers offensively, being a team that plays with multiple actions and shares the ball and being a team that is able to get organized against man or zone quickly … making sure that we contest shots and finish possessions with guys going to the defensive glass are the big things,” Lloyd said.

Simonds echoed Lloyd’s holistic approach by emphasizing how the team needs to put in maximum effort in these areas for a complete 40-minute game.

“I think we’ve had a lot of times this year where we played really well for 30 minutes or 25 and then kind of let it slip for a quarter of the game and we ended up losing because of it. So I think it’s just trying to stay at our best for the entire duration,” Simonds said.

The team will face Hamilton tonight and Amherst tomorrow on the road.


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