Men’s Basketball preserves game-long lead in win over Bowdoin College

The Colby Mules put on an impressive show for 40 consistent minutes of Men’s Basketball on Saturday afternoon. The Mules took down the 6-1 Bowdoin Polar Bears 89-85 in a game they led from the very beginning.

After giving up the first bucket, Colby tightened up the inside defensively and caught fire offensively. Ethan Schlager ’20 led the initial charge by scoring five points in quick succession (a quick three, and a fast break layup) to put the Mules up 7-2 before Bowdoin decided to call a quick timeout only two minutes into the game. The Mules came out of the time out with the next five points, all coming from Schlager, who hit another from long distance and added a cutting layup.

The Mules followed this impressive 12-0 run up with a sustained high level of effort on the offensive and defensive ends. Offensively, the ball was moving fast and purposefully, each possession ending in a good shot for the Mules. Defensively, the Mules played suffocating defense, but the Polar Bears stayed within single digits the entire half. By the end of the half, however, Bowdoin had brought it back to a one point game.

Bowdoin was playing a much more physical style compared to Colby, who looked more fluid and seemed to execute better. In the first half, the Polar Bears fought hard for rebounds and made tough layups when their 3-pt shot was not falling. Despite the fact that Bowdoin showed 22.2% from downtown on the game, they won almost every category in the “hustle” stats. The Polar Bears outrebounded Colby 41-33, had 12 more points off of turnovers than the Mules (23-11), and outscored the Mules by 20 in the paint (44-24).

As the second half played out, however, Colby’s style of basketball prevailed as they were able to open up the game and let their offensive talent shine. The Mules shot 40.6% from three on the game (which is impressive for the NBA) on 19 assists, a great indicator that the ball movement and passing was crisp and effective. The Mules also stepped up their energy levels in the second half. Early into the second half the Mules started drawing loose-ball fouls, forcing jump balls, blocking shots, stealing the ball, and finishing through contact. The energy was contagious throughout the game and gave the Mules a great sense of urgency from start to finish.

Each time Colby seemed like it was going to give up the lead, huge individual performances would elevate the energy back to operating levels for the Mules. After Schlager’s early scoring outburst, the Mules got incredible contributions from their bench and younger players. Alex Dorian ’20 came off the bench in the middle of the first half and nailed two massive three-pointers to re-extend the lead they had built from the initial 12-2 run. The freshman tandem at guard of Matt Hannah ’21 and Wallace Tucker ’21 was instrumental for the Mules from the beginning. Both contributed heavily offensively as they both were tied for second on the team in scoring (15 points each), but it was their active hands on defense and cool heads on offense that kept the Mules ahead. Spurred by Tucker, the Mules went on a 9-0 run where they hit three 3-pointers in the matter of a minute, forcing the Polar Bears to take a timeout and regroup. This run was ultimately enough to spur the Mules on to a win. Both were particularly impressive from deep, as they both went 3-5 from three point range.

This was the first NESCAC game for the Mules this season, as they started their conference campaign on the winning foot. The Mules struggled last season in the NESCAC and after a strong start to the season and a successful first conference game the Mules are already on a much better trajectory than they were this time last season.