WELLESLEY, Mass. — A terrific start and a spirited comeback bid wasn’t enough for the Bates men’s basketball team Friday night, as the Bobcats lost 79-62 to Trinity in the NCAA Division III round of 16 at Babson College.

Bates (21-7) got off to a fine start, hitting three of its first six shots while taking an 8-4 lead as Trinity (23-6) committed a slew of turnovers. But the Bantams went to their bench, got a 3-pointer from Andrew Hurd, and evened the score at 15-15 with 9:25 left in the half.

The Bobcats missed 17 of their last 19 shots in the half while Trinity settled down, and the Bantams went into the halftime break with a 33-22 advantage.

“For whatever reason we didn’t shoot very well today,” said Bates guard Graham Safford. “Trinity’s defense makes you work for every shot.”

Bates held its New England Small College Athletic Conference rival to 38 percent shooting in the half, but the Bobcats shot only 20 percent.

“I think a lot of our shooting problems were due to the Trinity defense,” said Bates Coach Jon Furbush. “They closed out our perimeter all game. That stretch at the end of the half, we were getting decent looks, but at this stage of the tournament you have to make contested shots, and we didn’t.”

Trinity pushed its lead to 38-24 early in the second half, but Bates’ brother tandem, Malcolm and Marcus Delpeche, helped bring the Bobcats back into contention with an 11-3 spurt.

It looked bad for Bates when Safford went down with a right ankle injury with 13:03 to play. He was back minutes later, though, and keyed another rally with a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 55-50 with 8:12 to play.

From that point on, Trinity clamped down on the defensive end, and a 10-0 surge effectively put the game out of reach.

“Almost all of Trinity’s 3s came off our runs,” Furbush said. “That slowed us down when we were trying to come back. We knew they had shooters like that, even coming off the bench, who could make those, and today they did.”

Safford finished his career with 20 points.

“I have a lot of emotions running through me, like all the seniors,” said Safford. “It’s a quality bunch of guys. I hope this loss lights a fire under the younger guys, and they keep the program moving forward, even becoming a powerhouse in coming years.”

Trinity point guard Jaquann Starks was a persistent problem for the Bobcats, leading the Bantams with 20 points and making several 3s to answer Bates comebacks.

“The keys are always the same for us,” said Starks. “Defense and rebounding, that’s our bread and butter, and we know our offense will come. Our bigs are so good that opposing guards have to help out, which helps get me open. I hit the first one, and I think they’re all going to go.”

Bates had never reached the NCAA tournament until this year.

“I like to hope this is just the beginning,” said Furbush. “I am really optimistic that we can do something similar next year. Now we can sell the dream.

“Graham was a player I recruited by telling him he was one of the guys who could get us to where we want to go. It’s a special group that got us to this point, and we hope to keep it going. It was great to get this much support; there’s a lot of Bates people out there in the stands tonight, and we appreciated it.”