BRUNSWICK — Even with a 19-point lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game, Bowdoin men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride knew the lead wasn’t safe. Not against a rival like Colby.

“It’s two teams that are going to keep playing right until the very end, and they shoot so well, you know it’s going to be a game of runs,” Gilbride said. “It’s more what’s happening right at the end than any leads throughout the game.”

While the Mules cut the Polar Bears lead to five points in the final minute, Bowdoin was able to hang on for an 83-77 win. The victory improved Bowdoin to 12-4, 2-2 in New England Small College Athletic Conference play. Colby dropped to 10-6, 1-3 in conference games.

“I thought we ground out some stops in the last 10 minutes trying to get ourselves a chance to climb back into the game. Digging a hole always makes how well you have to play to finish it extremely challenging,” Colby coach Damien Strahorn said.

A key for the Polar Bears throughout the game was the play of sophomore David Reynolds, who scored a career-high 29 points and was 6 for 9 from 3-point range. When Bowdoin needed a big basket, more often than not it came from Reynolds. When Colby cut the deficit to nine points with six minutes to play, Reynolds made a three to push it back to 12, 74-62. The Mules whittled the Bowdoin lead to six, 74-68, with three and a half minutes left, and Reynolds answered with a layup to push the cushion back to eight points.

“He’s been playing pretty well all year, and probably this semester has come into his own,” Gilbride said of Reynolds. “Today was probably just a continuation of what he’s been doing for us. We went to him in some key times.”

The game was tied 19-19 midway through the first half, when the Polar Bears went on a run to close the half and take a 46-33 lead into the break. While Bowdoin shot 51.6 percent from floor in the first half, Colby shot just 31.4 percent. Strahorn also pointed to eight first-half turnovers as crucial mistakes for the Mules.

“Offensively, we’ve been pretty good all year. I thought some of our turnovers, we were trying to do too much one on one. The ball was probably being over-dribbled tonight a little too much. The lack of movement to clean shots shows up in that 31 percent,” Strahorn said.

The Polar Bears continued to dominate early in the second half, and a 3-pointer from Jack Bors gave Bowdoin a 64-45 lead with 11:15 to play. Down the stretch, Gilbride felt his team was too careless with the ball, contributing to Colby’s rally. Bowdoin finished with 20 turnovers, while Colby had 15.

“To (Colby’s) credit, they put a lot of pressure on you up top. It’s hard for you to do what you want to do and execute as well,” Gilbride said.

Hugh O’Neil had 11 points and 11 boards for Bowdoin, while Zavier Rucker added 13 points and five assists. Jack Simonds also scored 11 points for the Polar Bears.

Alex Dorion led Colby with 18 points off the bench, making six 3-pointers. Sam Jefferson scored 16 points for the Mules.

For Bowdoin, the win avenged an 89-84 loss to Colby in Waterville on Dec. 2.

“I actually think both teams have improved. I thought we did a better job defensively in this game. Especially in half court when we were set. They got some things in transition at times, and we had a couple breakdowns late,” Gilbride said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM