Frontcourt tandem leads St. Joe's past women's hoops, 71-64

LEWISTON, Maine -- Abby Young scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Saint Joseph's College of Maine held off a late rally by the Bates women's basketball team for a 71-64 win on Wednesday night in Alumni Gym. The win is the Monks' first against Bates since 2002, ending a streak of eight consecutive Bates victories.

Young shot 11-for-16 from the field and added two blocked shots for St. Joe's (14-4), which won for the seventh time in its past eight contests. Morgan Cahill, the other half of the Monks' formidable frontcourt, added 16 points and eight rebounds, as St. Joe's outscored Bates 40-20 in the paint. 

Bates (7-11) senior Meredith Kelly (Cohasset, Mass.) scored 24 points to go with seven rebounds, and first-year forward Allie Coppola had her fourth double-double of the season, with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while sharing the team assists lead with classmate Bernadette Connors (Windham, N.H.), with four. Junior Allaina Murphy (Poland Spring, Maine) recorded her second double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Bates' chances seemed grim with 11:04 left to go in the second half, when stalwart senior point guard Julia Rafferty (Reading, Mass.) came off the floor with her fourth foul, and St. Joe's saw its lead expand to 11 on a 3-pointer by Abbie Eastman. Point duties were turned over to Connors, a 5-foot-9 forward. But an offensive rebound and putback by Coppola began a 13-3 Bates outburst, with Kelly, sophomore Chelsea Nason (Boxford, Mass.) and Connors nailing consecutive threes in a 76-second stretch to suddenly bring Bates back within two at 55-53.

Cahill made a free throw and Eastman followed with another three to bump St. Joe's lead back to four, but Bates wasn't through with its comeback effort. Kelly converted a three-point play, then offset a Hendrix layup with a pair of free throws to cut it to 62-60. A steal by Coppola transitioned into a three by Rafferty off a cross-court pass from Kelly, giving Bates the lead, at 63-62 with 3:49 to go, Bates' first lead since it was 16-15.

St. Joe's responded in kind, feeding the post and getting the desired result, as first Cahill and then Young drew fouls and drained four straight free throws for a 66-63 lead with 2:49 to go. Bates missed its final seven shots over the last 3:10, and a layup and two more free throws by Young put the Monks up 70-63 with 1:04 to go.

Young's 13 points and seven rebounds sparked the Monks to a 33-27 halftime lead. Bates outrebounded St. Joe's 27-18 in the period but the Bobcats were outshot from the field .448 (13-29) to .306 (11-36).

Coppola nearly had her double-double by intermission, with 10 points and nine boards. Kelly was the Bobcats' other main producer, with 12 points and five boards.

St. Joe's made its first six shots of the second half, all layups, three of them by Young and two by Cahill, opening a lead as large as 12, at 50-38 with 12:22 to go. The Monks shot 59.1% from the field in the second period and finished at 51.0% for the game, while Bates finished at 31.2% for the contest. 

Young and Cahill combined for 17 of St. Joe's 26 field goals, and 23 of those field goals were assisted by Monk teammates. Bates outrebounded St. Joe's by a 50-38 margin, including 24 on the offensive glass -- 10 of which were Coppola's.

Kelly's 24 points moved her past Priscilla Wilde '77 and Jolene Thurston '00 and into a tie for 12th place on Bates' career points list with Amy Schrag '91, at 1,092.

Bates has a road NESCAC weekend coming up, at Wesleyan on Friday at 6pm, followed by Connecticut College on Saturday at 2pm.