WATERVILLE — Entering this week’s action, Colby was allowing its opponents to shoot 36 percent from the field — good for ninth best in the country among all NCAA Division III men’s basketball teams. But Bowdoin had the antidotes for that: A seven-footer who got a lot of high-percentage shots, and a senior guard having his best game of the season.

Big John Swords took only nine shots, but finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Andrew Madlinger came in averaging 9.7 points per game, exploded for 28. That was too much for Colby to overcome, and Bowdoin took an 82-64 victory at Wadsworth Gymnasium.

Not many Division III teams have a good answer for an agile seven-footer, and Swords dunked a few times and scored several other easy baskets off of his five offensive rebounds. As a team, Bowdoin (7-0) had 14 offensive rebounds, while Colby had 15 defensive rebounds.

“We’re pretty good (at offensive rebounding) — well, John makes you good.” Bowdoin coach Tim Gilbride said. “What happens is if teams are working to front him, or keep him from getting the ball, then when shots go up, he’s got a lane to get a rebound, and he gets in there.”

“When you’re getting beat off the dribble, and you’re in rotation, certainly you’re not going to be in position to block out the way you are if you’re contending the ball and you’ve got your help defense set,” Colby coach Damien Strahorn said. “John Swords is a big body, and if you’re rotating and scrambling out there, it’s going to be hard to get him out.”

Madlinger was shooting 34 percent this season, but made 10 of his 14 shots on Saturday, including six of nine 3-pointers. On two of his four missed shots, he got his own rebound and scored. The game’s defining moment came a little over 5 minutes into the second half. Colby played such strong defense on Madlinger that his fadeaway shot from the left baseline hit the side of the backboard — but because it hit the side of the backboard, the ball bounced back to him, and he made the shot for a 54-38 lead.

“He’s a great shooter, so you’re waiting for him to break out and get it going,” Gilbride said. “Early on, he got some open looks and knocked them down, and then I think he started feeling real good. Then, looks that weren’t even open, he started knocking down.”

Luke Westman (22 points) and Chris Hudnut (20) were the top scorers for Colby. The Mules fell behind 18-9 early, but played evenly the rest of the half and were within 38-30 at halftime. Colby had a chance to make a move when Swords picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and Bowdoin up 48-36, but the Polar Bears went on a 10-2 run with Swords on the bench, and Colby never got closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

Colby enters the winter break at 4-3. The Mules start four sophomores and a junior, and two of their top four reserves are sophomores.

“Obviously, right now, it’s painful,” Strahorn said. “Bates and Bowdoin are two teams that we haven’t found a way to beat yet. So for us, it stings to again fall short in the last two games. For the whole semester, we’ve done a lot of really good things. Certainly, our sophomores have progressed nicely.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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