MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- Trailing by a modest margin for most of the game, the Bates women's basketball team doggedly hung with Wesleyan University, eventually pulling even at 50-50 with 10:41 left to play. From there, however, the host Cardinals pulled away down the stretch for a 72-59 NESCAC victory.
Wesleyan rose to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in NESCAC play. Bates fell to 7-12 and remained winless in the conference at 0-5.
Jenna Klaes scored a game-high 20 points, including eight in Wesleyan's decisive 18-5 run, which spanned five minutes. Cherkira Lashley scored six in the run and finished with nine points off the bench. Dreisen Heath was the only other Cardinal in double figures, with 13 points off the bench with four rebounds and four steals. Jess Cherenza grabbed 10 rebounds to go with eight points.
Bates senior Meredith Kelly (Cohasset, Mass.) led four Bates players who scored in double figures with 15 points. Senior Julia Rafferty (Reading, Mass.) scored a career-high 13 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore Chelsea Nason (Boxford, Mass.) pitched in with 12 points and seven rebounds and two blocked shots, and first-year Allie Coppola (Tarrytown, N.Y.) recorded her fifth double-double of the season, and her second in a row, with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Rafferty, Nason, Coppola and first-year Bernadette Connors (Windham, N.H.) distributed three assists each.
Wesleyan's depth paid off with a 32-6 advantage in points off the bench, and the Cardinals outscored the Bobcats 30-12 in the paint.
Klaes and Lashley hit back-to-back threes to bump Wesleyan's lead to 48-38, the largest margin of the game to that point, with 15:26 left. Rafferty responded with a 3-pointer, and after a layup by Wesleyan's Brenna Diggins, Bates reeled off nine unanswered points. Coppola made a layup followed by two straight buckets by junior Allaina Murphy (Poland Spring, Maine). Rafferty capped the run with another three to tie the game at 50-50 -- the first time Wesleyan hadn't led since Bates was up 13-12 in the first half.
Wesleyan led 39-31 at the half, powered by 10 points from Dreisen Heath. Kelly had 11 points at the break and Nason had eight, with two 3-pointers.
Bates plays at Connecticut College (11-7, 3-2 NESCAC) Saturday at 2pm.