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Middlebury cools off women's hoops in NESCAC opener, 65-56

Allie Coppola tallied her sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 16 rebounds in Bates' 65-56 loss at Middlebury on Jan. 9, 2015. (File photo by Sarah Crosby/Bates College) 

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Senior Molly Brown scored 19 points and sophomore Allie Coppola added 16 points and 16 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for the win, as the Bates women's basketball team fell 65-56 in its New England Small College Athletic Conference opener Friday night at Pepin Gym, snapping a three-game winning streak.

Elizabeth Knox (21), Alexis Coolidge (16), and Sarah Kaufman (14) accounted for 79 percent of the Panthers' scoring in the game. 

Bates (9-5, 0-1 NESCAC) will host Trinity next Friday at 7pm and Amherst next Saturday at 3pm. Middlebury (8-4, 1-0) returns to conference play on Sunday, hosting Tufts at 3pm.

After a jumper from Siobhan O'Sullivan at 15:51 gave Middlebury a 9-2 lead, the Bobcats rattled off four three-pointers, countered by a pair of Panther lay-ups, giving the visitors a 15-13 lead at 13:16 left in the first half. Bates junior Chelsea Nason (Boxford, Mass.) knocked the first of the long-balls down from the right wing and was fouled on the play. After Nason converted the rare four-point play, she nailed another three-pointer, tying the game at 9-9. Brown (South Dartmouth, Mass.) followed with two threes that bookended a Knox lay-up for the 15-13 lead.

Over the next nine minutes of play the Bobcats went ice-cold, hitting just 1-of-16 from the floor as Middlebury went on an 18-2 run. Coolidge netted six points and Kaufman added five, including a three-pointer off a Coolidge assist. Trailing 31-17, Bates sophomore Bernadette Connors (Windham, N.H.) hit a jumper at 4:16 before Kaufman gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game (34-19), sinking a three-pointer at 3:18.

Bates found its shooting touch to close out the half, going on a 9-0 run, highlighted by five points from senior Kristin Calvo (South Deerfield, Mass.), cutting the deficit to 34-27 with just over a minute to play. Coolidge and Brown exchanged baskets in the final minute of action, setting the halftime score at 36-29.

Bates opened the second half with a Coppola (Tarrytown, N.Y.) layup, narrowing the Panther lead to 36-31. The Panthers bumped their advantage to 47-37 at the 10:52 mark on a trey from Knox. Brown answered with a three of her own, before Kaufman and Knox hit back-to-back buckets for a 51-40 lead at 8:46.

Middlebury's lead hovered in the seven- to 12-point range for the remainder of the game. In the final minute, the Bobcats sent the Panthers to the charity stripe, where Middlebury hit 4-of-5 to maintain its lead.

Knox led all scorers with 21 points on 9-17 shooting, including 3-4 from behind the arc. Coolidge's 16 came on 6-12 from the floor, while Kaufman grabbed a career-best 14 rebounds to go with her 14 points. O'Sullivan added four assists and three steals to her six points and 11 rebounds.

Bates was paced by Brown's 19 points, highlighted by four 3-pointers, and seven rebounds. Coppola had her sixth double-double of the season, as well as four steals, while Nason finished with seven points and a game-best four blocks. Connors passed out a game-high five assists in addition to seven points and six boards.