Women's basketball gives No. 5 Amherst a battle in 53-43 loss

First-year Meghan Graff scored a team-high 19 points against No. 5 nationally ranked Amherst on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Alumni Gymnasium. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates women's basketball team took on two-time defending national champion No. 5 nationally ranked Amherst and gave the Mammoths all they could handle before falling 53-43 Saturday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium. 

First-year Meghan Graff (South Portland, Maine) played all 40 minutes for the Bobcats (10-11, 2-7 NESCAC) and scored a team-high 19 points on 7-19 shooting. Graff scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter. First-year Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.Y.) grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Junior Melanie Binkhorst (West Hartford, Conn.) finished in double figures with 10 points and first-year Mia Roy (Bedford, N.H.) added seven points off the bench. 

Amherst (19-2, 6-1 NESCAC) had one player finish in double figures, with Madeline Eck tallying a game-high 20 points on 8-12 shooting. Eck, the leading scorer in the NESCAC, also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked a pair of shots. Maeve McNamara and Jade DuVal scored eight points each while Cam Hendricks pulled down 12 rebounds to go along with five points and three blocked shots. Bates held the NESCAC's second-leading scorer Hannah Fox to five points on 2-16 shooting. She did grab nine rebounds and tally a game-high four assists.

The Mammoths held Bates to 26.3% shooting while Amherst shot 40.4% from the field. However, the Mammoths only hit 1-10 from three-point range. Meanwhile Bates hit 5-24 from outside the arc. Amherst used its height to outscore the Bobcats 40-10 in the paint. But Bates did out-rebound Amherst by a count of 41-39.

A Binkhorst jumper gave Bates a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the game. After the Mammoths went up 4-2, a Dalia three-point play put Bates ahead 5-4 with 7:16 left in the first quarter. Then the Amherst defense clamped down and the Bobcats did not score again in the quarter, with the Mammoth going on an 8-0 run to take a 12-5 lead.

The run continued in the second quarter and Hendricks hit the Mammoths' lone three of the game to put them up 17-5 with 8:13 left in the half. 

Down 19-7 with 7:30 left in the second, the Bobcats chipped away. Roy and Binkhorst knocked down jumpers. Then Roy drilled a three to cut the deficit to 19-14 with 3:27 left. After Amherst scored the next four points, Binkhorst hit a three with 1:08 to go, trimming the Amherst lead to 23-17. An Eck layup and a pair of Graff free throws made the score 25-19 in favor of Amherst at the half. 

The Bobcats outscored the Mammoths 14-13 in the second quarter.

But once again, Amherst clamped down on defense in the third quarter. The Mammoths' offense also came alive, outscoring Bates 16-7. A 9-0 run to start the quarter turned a six-point halftime lead into a 34-19 advantage with 4:26 left in the third. Graff broke the scoreless drought for Bates by making a three-pointer with 3:35 left. Another Graff three cut the Amherst lead to 36-26 with 1:31 remaining. Then the Mammoths went on a 5-0 run to go up 41-26 through three quarters of action.

The Bobcats refused to back down, outscoring Amherst 17-12 in the fourth quarter. A Roy layup with 1:09 to go in the game trimmed the Mammoths' lead to nine. Meanwhile, Graff made 5-8 shots over the final 10 minutes after a slow start to the game offensively.

Bates is now 7-2 at home this season, with the Bobcats' only losses coming to No. 1 nationally ranked Bowdoin and No. 5 Amherst. The Bobcats hit the road Tuesday to take on Husson at 5:30pm.