Women's basketball opens NESCAC play with 65-56 win over Wesleyan

Meghan Graff's game-high 25 points led the Bates women's basketball team to a 65-56 win over Wesleyan in the NESCAC opener for the Bobcats on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Sophomore Meghan Graff scored a game-high 25 points and the Bates women's basketball team earned a 65-56 win over Wesleyan University Sunday afternoon in the NESCAC opener for the Bobcats. 

Sophomore Mia Roy (Bedford, N.H.) added 14 points, sophomore Ariana Dalia (Brick, N.J.) chipped in 11 on 4-8 shooting and junior Taylor McVeigh (Hanson, Mass.) grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in the win. 

The Bobcats (8-5, 1-0 NESCAC) won their third straight game and their fifth over the last six contests. Bates is now 6-1 at home this season. The Cardinals (8-5, 0-2 NESCAC) dropped their third straight game. 

Bates led by as many as 21 points in the victory. Wesleyan took an 8-7 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter on an Emma Roush layup but Graff (South Portland, Maine) answered with a pair of free throws and the Bobcats never trailed again.

With the score at 14-13 in favor of Bates, Graff found junior captain Julia Middlebrook (Ridgefield, Conn.) in the right wing with time winding down and Middlebrook drained a three at the buzzer, giving the Bobcats a 17-13 lead through one quarter. Middlebrook finished the game with nine points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists. 

The Bobcats opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter on a Roy three with 2:53 remaining. But Wesleyan's Heidi Scarth went on a personal 6-0 run down the stretch, cutting the Bobcat advantage to 27-24 at halftime.

Bates started the second half on fire, going on a 9-0 run and taking a 36-24 lead on a Dalia three-point play with 7:16 left in the third quarter. The Cardinals cut the advantage to 36-29 on a three-point play from Caleigh Ryan before Graff answered with a three-pointer with 5:35 remaining.

Up 39-29, the Bobcats saw their lead dwindle to three points on a Maddie Clark three with 2:50 to go in the third. Roy responded with five points down the stretch and Bates led 44-37 through three quarters of action.

With the score at 48-38, first-year Brianna Gadaleta (Chappaqua, N.Y.) hit a three-pointer from the top the key with 7:52 left in regulation, putting Bates up by 13.

For most of the fourth quarter, the Bobcats led by double digits, even going up by 21 points at 63-42 on a Middlebrook free throw with 2:08 left. A 14-2 run to close the game came too little too late for the Cardinals. 

Ryan led Wesleyan with 19 points on 7-12 shooting. She also grabbed a team-high five rebounds. Maddie Clark scored 13 points and Marina Petruzzi tallied 11 points, four rebounds and a game-high five steals.

The Bobcats shot 39.7% from the floor and held the Cardinals to 34.4% shooting. Bates also won the battle on the glass, out-rebounding Wesleyan 44-35. The Bobcats tallied 20 second chance points to Wesleyan's 11.

Bates visits the University of Maine-Farmington for a non-conference game Tuesday at 5:30pm. Then the Bobcats return to NESCAC action Friday at Amherst and Saturday at Hamilton.