GORHAM, Maine -- Sophomore Meredith Kelly scored 17 points and made seven steals to lead the Bates College women's basketball team in their 2011-12 season debut on Tuesday night, a 76-63 loss at the University of Southern Maine (3-1).
Kelly (Cohasset, Mass.), the 2011 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, shot 7-for-12 from the field and also dished out three assists for the Bobcats, while first-year forward Molly Brown (South Dartmouth, Mass.) chipped in 14 points and made three steals in her collegiate debut.
First-year Allaina Murphy (Poland Spring, Maine) also made an immediate contribution with seven points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Senior Annie Burns (Topsfield, Mass.) dished out a team-high four assists and made four steals, and junior Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.) added nine points and five rebounds. Senior Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine) tied Murphy for the team lead with six rebounds.
Courtney Cochran led USM with 25 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Cochran shot 8-for-12 from the floor and 9-11 at the free-throw line but committed nine of USM's 30 turnovers, 19 of them on Bates steals.
With three games under their belts already, the Huskies came out making shots at a 60.7% clip and out-rebounding the Bobcats 23-9 in the first half to build a 13-point lead at intermission (45-32). The Huskies made seven of their eight shot attempts during a 17-2 run between the 10:00 and 5:34 marks of the period. USM kept its lead in double digits until Bates cut it to nine with 8:10 left in the game.
USM sputtered in the second half with a 26.1 shooting percentage (6-23), but a 49-29 edge on the boards helped them maintain their cushion, even as the Bobcats played them evenly in the period, 31-31.
Nicole Garland knocked down four of five three-pointers en route to 16 points for USM, while Erin McNamara added 13 points and four assists. Haley Jordan chipped in with eight points, six rebounds and four assists.
Garland scored 13 of her 16 points in the first half knocking down 3-of-4 three pointers to lead USM, while Cochran was 4-for-4 from the field and free throw line for 12 first half points.
In the second half the Huskies shooting cooled from the field as Bates increased its defensive pressure, but the Huskies managed to increase their lead to 57-39 over the eight minutes. Despite shooting just 2-of-9 and committing seven turnovers over the eight minutes stretch, the Huskies managed to outscore the Bobcats 12-7 thanks in part to a solid 7-for-8 effort from the free throw line.
Trailing by 18, 57-39, with 11:25 to play Bates was able to pull to within eight of the Huskies, 60-52 outscoring USM 13-3 over five minutes span. Brown and Kelly each had five points in the run. The Huskies regained a double-digit lead with a 7-2 spurt for a 67-54 advantage with 2:45 to play, before Brown and Kelly again connected for a 5-0 mini run to trail 67-59 with 2:08 to play. The Huskies, however, were able to take back control from the free throw line knocking down all six of their attempts, including four straight from McNamara and two from Jordan, en route to a 9-4 run to close out the game. McNamara scored seven of her 13 points in the final two minutes of action.