LEWISTON, Maine -- Seeking its eighth straight win, Saint Joseph's College of Maine erased a 14-point deficit at halftime, but the Bates College women's basketball team staved off the Monks for a 66-62 non-conference victory on Tuesday night.
Bates sophomore Meredith Kelly (Cohasset, Mass.) led the Bobcats (8-10) with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 11 of them in the first half, and first-year Allaina Murphy (Poland Spring, Maine) added 10 points (all in the first half) and six rebounds, tying for the team lead on the glass with senior Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.) and first-year forward Molly Brown (South Dartmouth, Mass.), who both added seven points as well. Senior guard Annie Burns (Topsfield, Mass.) kept Bates afloat in an otherwise difficult second half, collecting all eight of her points and all four of her assists in the latter stanza. Burns also made a game-high four steals and committed just one turnover, in a game featuring a combined 46 giveaways (20 for Bates, 26 for St. Joe's).
The Bobcats prevailed despite a field-goal shooting disparity of 35.6% to 48.9% for the Monks. In the second half, St. Joe's shot 14-27 (.519), while Bates struggled to make 6-of-28 (.214).
Senior center Ashley Geel (St. George, Maine) led the Monks (11-6) with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, including 15 points and five boards in the second half. Senior Megan McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine) chipped in with nine points and sophomore Lindsay Moore (Barrington, N.H.) added eight points and eight boards.
Bates was able to distribute the ball effectively throughout the first half, leading to a combined 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting by Kelly and Murphy, as the Bobcats recorded assists on 11 of their 15 field goals in the period and made 10 steals for an 18-7 edge in points off turnovers. Leading 32-26 with 4:09 left in the half, Bates embarked on a 10-0 run, with six points by Kelly and four points by senior Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine), to open up a 16-point lead, before a layup by St. Joe's sophomore Abby Young (North Yarmouth, Maine) cut the halftime lead to 14, at 42-28.
The Monks began chipping away at Bates' 14-point halftime lead right off the bat in the second half. A pair of layups by Geel in the opening minute cut it to 10, and Geel fed Moore for another layup to cut the lead into single digits. A jumper by McDevitt, followed by a free throw and another layup for Geel, made it 42-39 with 14:44 left in the game.
Bates finally scored its first points of the second half when Burns stepped into a 3-pointer on a feed by junior Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.), bumping the lead back to six (45-39). Molly Brown countered a jumper by junior Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) with a three on a Burns feed, and on Bates' next trip down Burns made perhaps the play of the game, rebounding a miss by junior Taryn O'Connell (Georgetown, Mass.) while drifting out of bounds, and in one motion feeding Kelly underneath for a layup that gave Bates its biggest cushion the rest of the way, at 50-41 with 12:10 remaining.
St. Joseph's regained its momentum, however, going on an 11-3 run with four points by Moore, a trifecta by first-year Nicolette Kapothanas (Westbrook, Maine) and a pair of free throws by Geel to slice Bates' lead to 53-52. Dobish and junior Brianna Hawkins (South Portland, Maine) both made a pair of free throws for a 57-52 Bates lead, but the Monks answered with six points in a row to assume a 58-57 lead with 4:40 left, their first lead since it was 2-0. Geel's jumper on an Abby Young feed put the Monks ahead, the first of three straight hoops by the senior center, which offset a 3-pointer by Dobish to make it a 62-60 lead for St. Joe's with 3:20 left.
Bates would hold St. Joe's scoreless the rest of the way, however. Burns swished another big shot, with a three-pointer from the wing assisted by Brown, giving Bates the lead for good at 63-62. Brown hit one free throw and Burns made two more in the final 68 seconds of the game for a hard-earned win.
The Monks outscored Bates 24-2 in the paint in the second half.