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Comeback by women's basketball team stuns Nor'easters

Christine McCall '11 led the Bobcats with 15 points and nine rebounds.

LEWISTON, Maine -- Junior point guard Annie Burns' two free throws with 2.8 seconds left capped a huge comeback and an improbable 57-56 victory for the Bates women's basketball team over the University of New England on Monday night.

Bates (9-2) trailed by 17 points (51-34) at the 10:00 mark of the second half, and by nine points (56-47) with 4:03 remaining. UNE (6-5) was held scoreless from that point on, as Bates clawed back in.

Burns (Topsfield, Mass.) made a steal and assisted senior Christine McCall (Lowell, Mass.) for a layup. Junior Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.) then made a three-pointer with 2:03 left to cut the deficit to 56-52. McCall then drained another three, Bates' seventh of the half, with 43 seconds left to make it 56-55 in UNE's favor.

With about 10 seconds left in the game, Burns made another steal and passed ahead to a streaking Dobish, who couldn't control the ball, turning possession back to UNE and prompting Dobish to commit a foul. The Nor'easters missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Bates the ball back with under eight seconds left. UNE had two fouls to give, which Kari Pelletier used up quickly in a two-second span, with Bates still in its own half-court. But with 2.8 seconds left, the ball still in the Bates backcourt, Pelletier was whistled for a third foul on Burns, who was in the act of trying to rush the ball up the floor. Burns hit both foul shots to give Bates its first lead, at 57-56, since 2-0 in the opening seconds.

UNE got its inbounds pass over the halfcourt line and immediately called timeout, with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. A lob from near midcourt was tipped out of bounds by a Bates player, giving UNE the ball under the basket with 1.0 seconds remaining. UNE then called timeout, but the Nor'easters were out of timeouts, forcing officials to call a technical foul.

The tech didn't make a difference, as it turned out: Burns shot and missed both free throws, and the ball was returned under the Bates basket for another chance for the Nor'easters. Carrie Bunnell caught the inbounds pass and attempted a jumper from the wing that fell short, and the final buzzer sounded on Bates' strange win.

Burns had 10 assists and four steals to pace the Bobcats, while McCall grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go with her game-high-tying 15 points. Dobish added 13 ponits while junior Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine) and sophomore Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.) added nine points apiece.

UNE junior Kelley Paradis (Newport, Maine) led the Nor'easters with 15 points while Bunnell added 13 and Pelletier came up with 10. Bunnell, Paradis, junior Margo Russell (Madison, Maine) and sophomore Beth Suggs (Bath, Maine) all shared the team lead with seven rebounds apiece, and Bunnell dished out five assists.

Both teams struggled offensively for most of the game. Though UNE shot only 10-36 (.270) in the first half, the Nor'easters claimed a 30-22 lead at halftime thanks in large part to 13 offensive boards in the period, as well as Bates' 9-32 (.281) shooting performance.

O'Connell opened the second half with a jumper to close the gap to 30-24, but the Nor'easters responded with a 12-3 run over the next five minutes, with a Bunnell-assisted three by Pelletier making it 42-27 with 14:54 to go. As the second period neared its midpoint, Paradis hit a three and followed with a layup to extend the lead to 49-32, and Bunnell's layup with 10:00 left made it 51-34.

Beaulieu began Bates' comeback with a three at the 8:18 mark, and Dobish dialed up two more long-distance shots to cut it to 53-45 with 5:31 left. After McCall made a defensive rebound, then ran the floor for a layup on a Burns assist at the other end, Bates had cut the lead to six, at 53-47, with 4:22 left. But Pelletier responded with what would be the Nor'easters' last hoop, a three, for a 56-47 lead with 4:03 left.

UNE outrebounded Bates by a 47-37 margin and led 19-2 in second-chance points. Bates countered with a 22-7 advantage in bench points.

Bates hosts rival Colby in a non-conference matchup on Thursday at 7 p.m.  The game can be followed via Live Stats and Live Video Webcast.

BOX SCORE: Bates 57, UNE 56