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No. 1 Amherst holds off women's basketball, 72-66

Annie Burns '12 paced the Bobcats with 13 points, eight assists and five steals.

LEWISTON, Maine -- Caroline Stedman scored a game-high 20 points to lead the No. 1-ranked Amherst College women's basketball team to a 72-66 NESCAC win at Bates College on Friday night. The Lord Jeffs raise their record to 20-0, including a 6-0 mark in conference play, while Bates dips to 11-11 overall, 2-5 in the NESCAC.

Bates lost the game but gave the Lord Jeffs their narrowest margin of victory this season. Bates held Amherst to uncharacteristically subpar shooting (26-65, .400), helped cause 25 turnovers, and outrebounded Amherst 39-38. The Bobcats turned the ball over a season-high 30 times themselves, but shot 27-for-60 (.450) from the field.

Shannon Finucane scored 13 points to go with 10 steals and eight rebounds for the Lord Jeffs, and Jackie Renner added 10 points. Sarah Leyman scored nine points with a game-high nine rebounds.

Bates sophomore Annie Burns (Topsfield, Mass.) led the Bobcats in scoring for the first time this season, with 13 points, shooting 5-8 from the field and hitting both of her three-point attempts while dishing out a game-high eight assists and making a team-high five steals. First-year Taryn O'Connell (Georgetown, Mass.) and senior Lauren Yanofsky (Belmont, Mass.) added 12 points apiece, with Yanofsky adding five assists, four blocked shots and four steals. Junior Jessie Igoe (Lexington, Mass.) scored six points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Bates stayed close for most of the first half, though Amherst led nearly the entire time. The Lord Jeffs gradually built a lead as high as nine with eight minutes left in the half, and took a 31-22 lead on a Stedman jumper with 6:48 left in the period. Bates cut it to four (31-27) on an O'Connell layup and a three-pointer by first-year Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.), who finished with nine points and six rebounds. Amherst's Jaclyn Daigneault answered with a three of her own, and a jumper by Livia Rizzo gave Amherst a 38-31 lead at the half.

Bates hung close in the opening minutes of the second half, before a three by Finucane ignited a 10-2 Amherst run that put the visitors ahead 56-43 with 10:37 left in the game.

In perhaps one of its better efforts of the season, Bates again clawed back in the waning minutes. Amherst led 67-57 with 3:04 left, but a jumper by O'Connell and a three by sophomore Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.) cut it to 67-62 with 2:13 to go. A layup by Stedman with 44 seconds left held Bates at bay, but a pair of Yanofsky layups, assisted by Burns, cut it to 70-66 with 26 seconds left. Stedman iced the win by hitting a pair of free throws with three seconds to go.

Bates hosts Trinity on Saturday at 2 p.m. If you can't make it to Alumni Gym for all the action, you can still follow the game via Live Webcast and Live Stats, both free of charge.

Link to Stats and Play by Play