Women's basketball dominates fourth quarter, defeats Colby 54-47

The Bates bench celebrates a big play in the women's basketball team's 54-47 win over Colby on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 at Alumni Gymnasium. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates women's basketball team finished Saturday's game on a 19-4 run to defeat the Colby College Mules by a final score of 54-47 at Alumni Gymnasium. 

With the win, Bates (5-5, 1-1 NESCAC) earns a key conference victory. Meanwhile the Mules (5-7, 0-2 NESCAC) dropped their fourth straight game. 

For Bates, first-year Meghan Graff (South Portland, Maine) led all scorers with 17 points, matching her career-high. Sophomore Julia Middlebrook (Ridgefield, Conn.) added 10 points off the bench on 4-8 shooting and sophomore Taylor McVeigh (Hanson, Mass.) added eight points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds.

Colby's Jackie Albanese paced the Mules with 11 points off the bench and Katie McCrum added 10 points. The Bobcats held Colby star Ainsley Burns to nine points on Saturday. Burns scored a game-high 26 points when the teams met earlier this season in non-conference action. 

On Saturday, the Bobcats trailed 43-35 through three quarters. In the fourth quarter, Bates held Colby to 1-11 shooting from the field and the Bobcats hit 8-15 shots on offense. Middlebrook got the offense going with a layup to open the quarter, cutting the Colby lead to six. She followed that up with a three-pointer to get Bates within three points. After Burns split a pair of free throws, Graff hit a jumper to make the score 44-42 in favor of Colby with 7:16 remaining in regulation.

McVeigh got a key offensive rebound to set up Graff for the game-tying layup. Then first-year Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.J.) made the defensive play of the game, stealing a pass and racing down the court for the go-ahead bucket with 5:03 left. Middlebrook extended the lead to four with a layup before Albanese hit a three with 3:39 remaining to cut the Bates lead to 48-47.

But Colby did not score again. Instead, junior Melanie Binkhorst (West Hartford, Conn.) stole a pass and saved the ball to McVeigh, who scored on a fast break layup to extend the lead to 50-47. Graff converted an old fashioned three-point play after senior captain Erika Lamere (Weston, Mass.) secured a big offensive rebound to put Bates up 53-47 with 43 seconds left. 

Dalia added a free throw late for the final margin of victory. 

Bates opened the game on a 7-0 run, with Binkhorst converting a three-point play with 8:11 remaining in the first quarter. But Colby answered with a 6-0 run before Lamere drilled a three to put Bates up 10-6 with 4:30 remaining. Colby's Sarah Hancock answered with a three of her own and McVeigh's layup with 2:50 to go put the Bobcats ahead 12-9.

It appeared Bates would finish the first quarter up three, only to see Colby's Paige Russell hit a three at the buzzer, tying the game at 12.

That started a 10-0 run that gave Colby a 19-12 lead with 8:21 left in the second quarter. After the Bobcats called time, Middlebrook hit a three and first-year Amaari Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y.) converted a three-point play to cut the Mule lead to one. Burns responded with a personal 4-0 run to extend Colby's edge to 23-18 with 6:24 left in the second.

After Bates cut the Colby lead to 23-21, the Mules ended the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 28-21 lead into halftime.

For most of the third quarter, the Bobcats outplayed the Mules, rallying to tie the game at 35 on a pair of Dalia free throws with 1:51 remaining. But the Mules went on an 8-0 run down the stretch to take a 43-35 lead into the fourth quarter.

However, the fourth quarter belonged to the Bobcats and Bates prevailed over Colby at Alumni Gymnasium for the fifth time in the last seven years.

The Bobcats stay at home for a non-conference game this Tuesday when they host Maine-Farmington at 5:30pm.