LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Meghan Graff scored a game-high 18 points and hit three huge shots down the stretch to help the Bates women's basketball team hold off a Husson comeback attempt in a 59-51 victory Wednesday night at Alumni Gym.
With 5:43 left in the third quarter, Graff (South Portland, Maine) made a layup to give the Bobcats (1-2) their largest lead of the contest, a 41-26 advantage over the Eagles (1-2).
Heading into the final 10 minutes of the game, the Bobcats led 44-33. But Husson rallied to start the fourth quarter of action. With 5:22 left in the contest, Joan Overman made a pair of free throws, trimming the Bates lead to 46-42.
Graff had the answer for Bates. Junior captain Julia Middlebrook (Ridgefield, Conn.) cut to the right elbow and kicked the ball to Graff in the right wing. Graff took one dribble to her left and launched a three, draining it to put Bates up 49-42 with 4:33 left in regulation.
Back-to-back layups from Megan Peach and Emma Alley cut the Bates edge to 49-46 with 3:32 left. Then sophomore Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.J.) drove to the left elbow and found Graff all alone at the top of the key. She drained another three and Bates led 52-46 with 3:03 remaining.
With the lead at 54-50, Graff provided the final nail in the coffin of the Eagles with a long two from the corner out of a timeout, putting the Bobcats up six with 46 seconds to go in regulation.
Graff's 18 points came on 7-12 shooting. She grabbed five rebounds, dished out a team-high four assists and recorded two steals. Dalia finished with 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, three steals and three blocked shots. First-year Brianna Gadaleta (Chappaqua, N.Y.) added nine points on 3-4 shooting, six rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench.
Bailey Donovan paced the Eagles with 14 points, eight rebounds and a steal. Overman added 10 points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal. Megan Peach chipped in eight points, eight rebounds, a game-high six assists and four steals.
The Bobcats shot 33.9 percent from the floor while Husson shot 30 percent. The Bobcats made 6-29 from three and held Husson to just 1-10 from long range.
Bates jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the first quarter and added to the advantage with a dominant second quarter that saw the Bobcats outscore the Eagles 21-11. Dalia scored six of her 10 points in the second quarter and Bates forced Husson to turn the ball over seven times in 10 minutes.
The Eagles scored the first four points of the game but Bates came right back on buckets from Graff and Dalia. Dalia's pair of free throws with 3:27 left in the first quarter gave the Bobcats the lead for good.
Bates is back in action on Sunday when the Bobcats host Thomas College at 4pm.