SALEM, Mass. -- Carly Murphy scored 13 of her team-high 16 points, and the Colonials withstood a pair of furious Bates rallies, as Western Connecticut defeated the Bobcats 69-62 in the opening round of the Salem State Tip-Off Tournament. It was the season opener for both teams.
Bates sophomore Molly Brown (South Dartmouth, Mass.) scored a game-high 24 points for the Bobcats, shooting 9-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-6 from behind the three-point arc. The Bobcats will face MIT on Sunday at noon in the tournament's consolation game.
Murphy led four Western Connecticut players in double figures, as the Colonials shot 44% from the field.
The Colonials led by as many 10 in the first half and entered halftime with a 35-30 advantage. Jackie Zilnicki and Murphy combined for nine points in an 11-4 run to open the half and give Western Connecticut a commanding 46-34 lead.
Senior captain Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.) and Brown led a 9-0 Bates run to cut the deficit to three, at 46-43, but the Colonials jumped back on top 66-57 when Murphy hit a jumper with four minutes left.
Brown scored on a layup, then nailed a three-pointer with less than a minute remaining to trim the margin to four, 66-62, but the Bobcats would not get any closer.
Murphy finished 7-13 from the field and added five rebounds. Sciarra Brandt had 11 points and 8 rebounds, Caroline Brasa had 11 points, and Zilnicki finished with 10.
Beaulieu added 13 points for Bates, and junior Julia Rafferty (Reading, Mass.) finished with 10 points and a team-high three assists in her collegiate debut. Brown and senior captain Brianna Hawkins (South Portland, Maine) shared the team rebounding lead with six apiece.
Western Connecticut advances to the Tip-Off Tournament finals Sunday afternoon against Salem State at 2pm.