Women's basketball wins 74-73 overtime thriller over Colby

Sophomore Meghan Graff forced overtime with a shot at the buzzer and won the game with a free throw with 0.7 seconds left in the extra period in the Bates women's basketball team's 74-73 win over Colby on Wednesday, December 4, 2019. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Meghan Graff scored a career-high 24 points and the Bates women's basketball team prevailed 74-73 in overtime over the Colby College Mules in non-conference action Wednesday night at Alumni Gym. 

Graff (South Portland, Maine) hit a shot at the buzzer to force overtime and drained a free throw with 0.7 seconds left in the extra period to give Bates (3-3) the come-from-behind victory over the Mules (3-3).

Colby's Ainsley Burns hit a jumper with nine seconds remaining in regulation, putting the Mules up 66-62. Graff responded with a layup with 4.9 seconds left, trimming the lead to two. The Mules called timeout to advance the ball. But out of the timeout, Burns couldn't get the ball inbounds within the allotted five seconds, giving it back to the Bobcats. 

Sophomore Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.J.) got the ball in to Graff, who drove toward the hoop. She fired an off-balance shot from just outside the left block and banked it home at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.

The Mules opened up another four-point lead in overtime, going up 73-69 on an Alisha Aube layup with 1:34 remaining. Sophomore Mia Roy (Bedford, N.H.) split a pair of free throws with 1:23 left, cutting the lead to three. Bates got a big stop on defense and Graff came through again, draining a three from the left wing and knotting the score at 73 with 31 seconds to go in overtime.

Graff got fouled on the play but missed the free throw. First-year Jenna Berens (Durham, Conn.) got the offensive rebound to keep the possession alive. But Graff's layup attempt just rolled off the rim. Aube got the rebound and the Mules pushed the ball up the court. Bates caught a break when Burns got called for traveling with just 4.7 seconds left and the game still tied. Dalia inbounded the ball and Graff drove toward the hoop again. The Mules fouled Graff at half court, giving her two free throws with 0.7 seconds left.

Graff missed the first free throw but made the second, putting Bates up 74-73. Colby called timeout to advance the ball and the Mules were able to get the ball in to Paige Russell. Russell's shot rolled off the rim at the buzzer, clinching the thrilling victory for Bates.

Graff played 42 of 45 possible minutes. Her game-high 24 points on 10-19 shooting all came in the second half and in overtime. She dished out three assists and recorded two steals. Berens added a career-high 16 points off the bench on 7-11 shooting. She was practically unstoppable in the paint, grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots. Roy got hot from outside, scoring 15 points on 5-12 shooting. She drained 4-7 three-point attempts. Roy also added four rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

Dalia tallied eight points, three rebounds and a team-high five assists. Senior captain Melanie Binkhorst (West Hartford, Conn.) chipped in six points, a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Keagan Dunbar led the Mules with 19 points on 7-13 shooting. She also dished out a game-high six assists. Burns poured in 18 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists, recorded two steals and blocked a shot. Aube tallied 16 points, a game-high nine rebounds, two assists and a steal. Russell came off the bench and scored 13 points, tallied seven rebounds and recorded a pair of assists and a pair of steals.

The Mules shot 47.5% from the floor but turned the ball over 25 times. Meanwhile Bates shot 42% from the floor and only turned the ball over 17 times.

Wednesday's contest featured 14 ties and eight lead changes. Colby led by as many as seven points with 46 seconds left in the first quarter, before junior captain Julia Middlebrook (Ridgefield, Conn.) hit a three from the right wing, making the score 11-7 in favor of the Mules at the end of one. 

The Mules led by five at halftime after outscoring Bates 18-17 in the second quarter. 

With the score tied at 24, Russell hit a three to put Colby up 27-24 with 1:25 left in the half. Then Dunbar hit a pair of free throws, making the score 29-24 at the break.

A Roy three early in the third quarter cut the Colby lead to two and Graff's first bucket of the evening tied the game at 31 with 8:24 left in the third. 

Dunbar carried the Mules in the third quarter, scoring 10 of their 12 points. Graff tallied nine points for Bates and Berens added four. Graff foreshadowed her heroics down the stretch by hitting a runner three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to put Bates up 44-41.

A Graff layup with 9:46 left in the game gave Bates its biggest lead of the evening at 46-41. But the Mules fought back and took a 52-50 lead on a Dunbar three with 7:14 left.

Russell made a layup with 2:18 to go, putting Colby up 62-57. Bates answered with five straight points, including four from Berens, tying the game at 62 with 56 seconds remaining. Dunbar's layup put Colby up by two with 47 seconds to go before Burns' shot with the shot clock expiring extended the advantage to four with nine seconds left.

Then the Bobcats rallied behind Graff's clutch play, stunning the Mules. 

Bates is back at home Thursday night for more non-conference action when Bowdoin comes to town for a 7pm tip.