LEWISTON — The good news for Bates College early in the second half Tuesday night was that the University of Southern Maine didn't hit many shots.
The bad news was that the Bobcats didn't hit many either.
Even though Bates had the chance to trim the halftime lead, the Bobcats couldn't do it. When the Huskies finally got into an offensive flow, Bates couldn't keep pace and watched USM pull away in a 68-54 win.
"We played great defense the first five minutes of the second half," Bates coach Jim Murphy said. "Somewhere along the line, we've got to make shots. They made them and we didn't."
Though USM missed its first five shots to start the second half, Bates hit just four of its first 13 and that included four straight misses on one trip down the floor.
"For some reason this year, we've had all kinds of trouble executing our offense," Murphy said. "We've got to figure out a way to teach them to be more disciplined and have them run what they're supposed to run."
USM (3-0) got 16 from Nicole Garland and 12 from Jordan Grant. Nash Biliew added 10, seven of which came in the middle of the second half during a 14-4 run that broke the game open for good.
"There was a stretch in the middle of the second half when Nash took over for three or four minutes," USM coach Gary Fifield said. "They had no answer. She's just so athletic."
Bates (0-3) got 18 points and nine rebound from Molly Brown. Allie Beaulieu added 13.
Bates was plagued by foul trouble in the first half. Though the Bobcats stayed close, Bates had three regulars nursing three fouls by the end of the half. USM took advantage of Bates' ever-changing bench and built a 37-30 lead by the break.
"We committed some really stupid fouls in the first half," Murphy said. "They had 11 fouls shots and we had four. If someone is going to the basket and gets fouled, that's one thing, but we can foul them 50 feet away from the basket. We've got to be more aware of the situation."
Bates was able to get within 38-34 early in the second half when Julia Rafferty hit a jumper and Brianna Hawkins scored on a rebound. USM then used a 9-2 run to open the lead. Erin McNamara and Haley Jordan each scored. Then after a Jordan Grant basket, Garland drilled a 3 to make it 47-36 with 12:42 left.
Bates got a three-point play inside from Taryn O'Connell, but that would be as close as the Bobcats would get.
USM then ran off 12 straight, five from Biliew and a 3 from Garland, just as the shot clock sounded.
"I thought Nicole Garland's 3 from about 30 feet with the shot clock winding down broke their backs," Fifield said. "That was the dagger right there."
Bates was quickly down 59-39 with seven minutes left.
"We've got to be able to overcome that," Murphy said. "That just took the wind out of our sails."