LEWISTON – Bates College has played well against its weighty non-conference women’s basketball schedule without playing much defense.

If Wednesday night was a sign of how far the new-look Bobcats have progressed in three weeks, the New England Small College Athletic Conference rivals waiting on the other side of the holidays will probably wish they caught Bates earlier.

Matia Kostakis led three players in double figures with 14 points, hauled down a game-high 15 rebounds and led a smothering defensive effort in Bates’ 66-56 triumph over the University of Maine at Farmington in typically toasty Alumni Gymnasium.

After previous defeats against Southern Maine and Norwich, the win for Bates (5-2) was its first in three tries against fellow 2005-06 NCAA Division III tournament teams. Bates also avenged last season’s 62-59 road loss to the Beavers.

“We needed to hold a good team under 60 points,” said Bates coach Jim Murphy, “and that’s a good team. That’s a very good team.”

Kostakis drew the primary defensive assignment against UMF’s all-time leading scorer, Kari Simpson, and held her scoreless in the first half.

Simpson finished with six points on 2-for-14 shooting. Farmington’s other senior starter, Karen Sirois, went 3-for-15 from the field and concluded with 13 points.

Freshman Caitlyn Laflin led the Beavers (3-2) with 20 points.

“We wanted to keep the ball out of Simpson’s hands. We did the best we could on her. We knew what we were up against,” said Bates junior point guard Sarah Barton, who was an AAU teammate of Simpson’s when the UMF co-captain played at Wells and Barton represented nearby Portsmouth, N.H.

Bates led 37-28 at halftime. Despite an 0-for-5 start, the Bobcats extended the margin to double digits early in the second half. UMF twice trimmed the deficit to four and then finally nudged within three, 53-50, on Samantha Wiley’s 3-pointer with 7:48 remaining.

Those were Farmington’s last points for nearly six minutes. The Bobcats embarked on an 8-0 run that closed it out.

First-year forward Lauren Yanofsky had a hand in all four baskets during that stretch, dishing to Kostakis for a bucket and feeding two Teal Carroll hoops before hitting her own 12-footer from the left baseline to make it 61-50 with 2:18 left.

“We had to expend a lot of energy, not only to get back into the game but just to stay with them,” said UMF coach Jamie Beaudoin. “Bates played with a lot of intensity, especially on the offensive glass.”

UMF shot 18-for-62 (29 percent) from the field, and many possessions were one-and-done endeavors. Bates enjoyed a 56-36 rebounding edge. Kostakis collected 10 offensive boards.

Freshmen Carroll (11 points) and Yanofsky (10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists) were outstanding for Bates.

Back-to-back steals by Yanofsky produced two hoops in a five-second span and wiped out an early 10-6 UMF lead. Less than a minute later, Carroll hit a spinning short jumper to tie the game at 12. Kostakis next cashed in an inbounds pass from Barton to give Bates the lead for good.

“We’ll get better. Each day, each game, our first-years get better,” said Murphy. “I probably raise my voice at them more than I should. This is a lot for them to absorb.”

The brutal non-league journey continues for both teams. Bates has added a home game against Norwich at 6 p.m. Saturday to its schedule. Norwich won last weekend’s meeting in Vermont, 68-56.

UMF lost to Southern Maine in a season-opening tournament and will host Bowdoin in January.

“Anytime you play a team from Maine, it’s a tough non-conference game,” said Beaudoin.

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