Women's basketball ends 2019 on a high note with 59-54 win over WPI

Junior Taylor McVeigh and the Bates women's basketball team defeated WPI 59-54 on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 at Alumni Gym. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Meghan Graff scored a game-high 22 points and senior captain Melanie Binkhorst added 11 of her own to lead the Bates women's basketball team past WPI by a final score of 59-54 Tuesday afternoon at Alumni Gym. 

Bates (5-4) earned the win over the Engineers (5-4) in large part by draining free throws. The Bobcats made a season-high 25-29 from the charity stripe compared to WPI's 10 free throws made in 14 attempts. The Engineers held the advantage in field goal percentage at 36.4% to Bates' 30.9%. 

WPI hit 4-11 from three and the Bobcats finished 0-9 from beyond the arc. This is the first game Bates has won without hitting a three since 2010.

Graff (South Portland, Maine) drew foul after foul, making 10-11 free throws. She also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and matched Binkhorst (West Hartford, Conn.) with a game-high three steals.

Spencer Vinson paced the Engineers with 11 points and six rebounds. Alex Scariati tallied 10 points off the bench. 

The Bobcats found themselves down 48-46 with 3:15 remaining in regulation. Sophomore Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.J.) grabbed a rebound off a missed three from the right wing. She went up strong and drew a foul. Dalia hit a pair of free throws, tying the game at 48. Dalia made all six of her free throws on the day, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and two steals. On the other end, the Bobcats poked the ball away from Vinson and Binkhorst recovered the loose ball, drawing a foul. She split a pair of free throws, giving Bates a 49-48 lead with 2:37 remaining.

Scariati missed a three on the other end and Binkhorst grabbed the rebound. She got the ball into the hands of Graff, who drove all the way to the hoop, banking in a layup for a 51-48 edge.

The Engineers called a timeout with 1:59 left but couldn't get anything going on offense out of the break and got called for traveling. Then Binkhorst came through with a great drive to the hoop, hitting a runner and Bates held a 53-48 advantage with just 1:36 remaining.

Alana Keating had the answer on the other end with a shot from the elbow, cutting the lead to 53-50. Bates got called for traveling with 48.9 seconds left, giving the Engineers a chance to tie the game. 

But Vinson missed a shot in the paint out of a timeout and Bates drew a loose ball foul, giving the Bobcats a pair of free throws. Junior Taylor McVeigh (Hanson, Mass.) hit them both, putting the Bobcats back up by five. McVeigh had a very solid game, tallying six points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. 

The Engineers turned the ball over after a pass hit Keating in the head and Dalia grabbed the loose ball. She got fouled and made both free throws with just over 30 seconds left in regulation. The teams traded free throws after that, with Vinson and Graff both making a pair. Scariati made the final basket of the afternoon with just seconds left on the clock and Bates emerged with a 59-54 win. 

The game stood tied at 24 at halftime. Bates' big third quarter proved to be critical, with the Bobcats outscoring WPI 20-15. The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes. Bates led by as many as eight with 3:27 left in the third quarter. The Engineers made the Bobcats sweat down the stretch, taking a three-point lead with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter on a Melanie Presseau three. But Graff answered immediately with a long two. And the Bobcats took control away from WPI in the final minutes.

Bates is back in action on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 when the Bobcats travel to Atlanta to take on Emory at 3pm.