LEWISTON, Maine — Senior Emily Freedland scored all 15 of her points in the second half on a career-high five 3-pointers, and the Bates College women’s basketball team defeated Middlebury College 60-57 Friday night in Alumni Gymnasium, giving the Bobcats their first NESCAC victory of the season and handing the Panthers their first conference loss.
Nina Davenport scored a game-high 16 points for Bates (6-10, 1-2 NESCAC), which shot a season-best .449 from the field (22-49) and .400 (8-20) from long distance, the Bobcats’ first time at the .400 mark or better since Nov. 21. Melanie Binkhorst added 14 points with five rebounds and four assists.
Middlebury (12-3, 2-1 NESCAC) had its four-game winning streak snapped and lost to Bates for the first time since the 2011-12 season. The Panthers shot .429 from the field and a season-low .182 (2-11) from beyond the arc.
A gritty effort by the Bobcats limited the much taller Middlebury side to a 33-30 rebounding advantage. Taylor McVeigh tallied a team-high six rebounds off the bench while five other Bobcats had four or five boards.
Sarah Kaufman led the Panthers with 15 points, while Maya Davis added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Middlebury led 15-14 after the first quarter, following eight lead changes in the opening period. Six Panthers scored in the quarter, led by Betsy Knox’s four points. Binkhorst drove for a pair of layups to lead Bates with four points.
The Panthers maintained a small lead throughout the second quarter. Lily Kuntz made Middlebury’s first two baskets of the period, and a Sabrina Weeks jumper made it 21-16 in the Panthers’ favor, but Davenport struck back with a pair of 3-pointers midway through, narrowing the lead to 23-22. Davenport shot 4-for-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch to counter a Catherine Harrison layup for Middlebury, giving the NESCAC’s leading scorer 10 points in the quarter. But Middlebury bench players Weeks, Kuntz and Harrison scored four points apiece in the quarter and Middlebury led 28-26 at the half.
The 5-foot-6 Binkhorst exploded for 10 points, all on layups, in the third quarter as Bates outscored Middlebury 18-12 to assume a 44-40 lead. Middlebury committed five turnovers in the period and was limited to 12 field goal attempts. Binkhorst opened the quarter with a layup, then fed Freedland for her first 3-pointer, giving Bates its first lead since the first quarter at 31-28. A pair of free throws by Middlebury’s Davis cut Bates’ lead to 39-38 with 1:38 left in the third, but a Freedland three made it 42-38, and Binkhorst answered a Kaufman jumper with a layup before the end of the quarter.
Freedland’s first three of the fourth quarter, assisted by Julia Middlebrook with 7:15 to go in the game, opened a game-high five-point lead for the Bobcats at 49-44. But a free throw by Ivy Houde and back-to-back layups by Kaufman tied the game at 49 with 3:52 left. Middlebrook found Freedland again for three, however, and Davenport’s layup after a Middlebury turnover made it a five-point game again (54-49). Knox’s nifty feed to Davis closed the gap to 54-51, and Davis notched Middlebury’s third block of the period to return the ball to Middlebury for a missed jumper. Then Binkhorst drove the baseline and found Freedland for her fifth 3-pointer of the game and her third of the period, making it 57-51 with 1:05 to go.
Middlebury responded with a three-point play by Kox, assisted nicely by Kira Waldman. But after a Bates timeout, Binkhorst assisted a Middlebrook three with 12 seconds to go. Middlebury called time and Kaufman dropped in a rainbow three with 3.1 seconds left, narrowing the difference to 60-57. Bates called timeout and the ball was inbounded to Middlebrook, who was able to dribble out the clock for Bates’ biggest win of the season.
Both teams play again Saturday at 3pm, with Bates hosting Williams and Middlebury at Tufts.