BANGOR, Maine — To put it simply, Bates College had no answer for Husson University standout Shelby Bradford of Lee Tuesday night.
The Bobcats of Lewiston, however, countered with plenty of weapons of their own, as Val Beckwith scored 16 second-half points and Amanda Gifford, another former Lee Academy standout, played a solid game from the point guard position as Bates pulled away for a 79-64 nonconference victory at Newman Gymnasium.
The 1-3 Eagles played tough, as they trailed only 38-33 at halftime and had an answer for nearly every Bates run.
“At halftime we talked about just getting up in their face and making the pass not so easy to get into the post,” explained Gifford, who contributed nine points in her second start of her freshman campaign.
Bradford gave the 3-1 Bobcats fits in the paint, scoring a team-high 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for Husson, extraordinary numbers seeing as how she played with three fouls most of the second half.
“We told the players coming in she was averaging a double-double and we were going to have to pay attention to her,” Bates coach Jim Murphy said.
The Eagles struggled to contain Beckwith and Bates’ uptempo game in the second half.
Beckwith helped spark a 19-9 run with six points that gave the Bobcats a 17-point lead with 11:42 to play.
“I think we just did a really good job of pushing the ball,” Gifford said.
Kissy Walker’s Husson club refused to go quietly, as Bethany Sevey of Skowhegan, who scored 14 points off the bench, scored eight points in a span of 2:43 to pull the Eagles to within 61-54 with 8:35 remaining.
After that stretch, in which Sevey hit a pair of wide-open 3-pointers along the right wing, Murphy made some quick adjustments.
“We started helping a little too much and they got a few open looks at the basket from outside,” Gifford said.
But Beckwith would score Bates’ next nine points to stretch the lead back to double digits.
“We just had to stay in control and play our game,” said Beckwith, who finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, both team highs.
Husson had trouble keeping Beckwith off the baseline, with freshman guard Annie Burns dishing out nine assists, setting up numerous screens and backdoor cuts.
“We started to set, I thought, some better screens which allowed Val to get freed up a little bit,” Murphy said.
While the Eagles had a 33-30 rebounding advantage, Bates outscored Husson 22-8 from the free-throw line.
“We made our free throws down the stretch and that obviously helped,” said Murphy.
The game was a reunion of sorts for Gifford, who renewed acquaintances with old high school rivals such as Bree Hanscom of Mattanawcook in Lincoln.
“It was interesting, it was good to see them. Even though they’re opponents on the floor, they’re still friends off the floor,” Gifford said.
Lauren Yanofsky also finished with nine points for Bates.
Mattawamkeag native Hanscom chipped in with seven points for Husson.