BRUNSWICK — Two defenses dominated the first half Thursday night at Morrell Gymnasium.

One defense and one offense shared the second-half spotlight. Both belonged to Bowdoin.

The host Polar Bears went on a tear just before intermission and dropped the hammer when the light turned green again, coasting home to a 66-60 women’s basketball victory over rival Bates.

In the space of less than eight minutes, not counting any halftime pep talk or intermission entertainment, Bowdoin transformed a seven-point deficit into a double-digit lead.

Bowdoin ratcheted up that advantage to 17 points, 60-43, with 5:40 remaining before a late Bates flurry performed cosmetic surgery on the final tally.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit with our offense. We proved to ourselves tonight that we can dig ourselves a hole and come back and be just fine,” Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles said. “It’s a real confidence builder for the team.”

In danger of losing its third game in four tries against an in-state opponent, Bowdoin climbed upon the shoulders of seniors Jill Henrikson and Ellery Gould and junior playmaker Kaitlin Donahoe.

Donahoe scored 13 points to go with six assists and three steals.

Her quickness to the basket and her ability to draw defenders and dish to other Polar Bears for easy deuces and treys gave Bates fits throughout the second half.

“I know Henrikson scored more and Gould scored more, but she was the difference in my mind,” Bates coach Jim Murphy said. “She keeps everybody involved with her ability to dribble penetrate and find people. She was very, very good.”

Henrikson battled early foul trouble before erupting for 13 of her game-high 22 points in the second half.

Gould added 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Henrikson and Gould were a combined 14-for-23 from the field.

Bowdoin forced 19 turnovers and held Bates to just under 42 percent from the field.

“We really stressed that we wanted to control the tempo more, push the ball more and turn up the heat,” said Shibles, who played for Bates in the 1980s. “I thought that was the difference in the game, our defensive intensity.”

Allie Beaulieu led Bates with 13 points. Meredith Kelly added 12 and Annie Burns 11.

Bates’ bench outscored Bowdoin’s, 28-0, but it wasn’t enough to extend the Bobcats’ five-game winning streak.

Both teams are 5-2. This was their traditional non-conference matchup. The annual NESCAC meeting comes later in Lewiston.

“The first 15 minutes of the second half, give Bowdoin credit: Every loose ball they got. We missed some shots and it sort of snowballed,” Murphy said. “There was a stretch where it was like we were running in three feet of water.”

Henrikson scored back-to-back baskets out of the half to put Bowdoin in front, 30-26. That made it 11 straight points for the Polar Bears.

Lauren Dobish broke the spell with an inside hoop before Donahoe dished inside to Amy Hackett for the answer, then found Gould for a 3-pointer from the corner.

Bates matched baskets until Taryn O’Connell connected down low to make it 38-34 with 16 minutes to go.

The Bobcats wouldn’t get any closer. Alexa Barry and Donahoe scored six points in rapid succession.

Henrikson’s 3-pointer and a Donahoe drive later capped the 41-17 surge and made it a 17-point lead.

Donahoe’s direction whittled Bowdoin’s turnover total from 10 in the first half to seven after the break.

“Even against Southern Maine (an opening-night loss), we got a lot of points off the fast break. We didn’t get any tonight,” Murphy said. “And of course a big reason for that is they have Ellery Gould, who’s as fast as anything we have.”

Bates scored nine straight points to close within eight, 60-52, with just over two minutes to play.

But Donahoe and Hackett combined to calmly drain the shot clock, finding Gould for an open jumper in the paint to ice it.

Gould also was a huge factor in Bowdoin overcoming its largest deficit of the game.

The Polar Bears closed the first half with a 7-0 run to pull even at 26. Gould crashed the boards for a putback and also drained a 3-pointer from the right corner during that stretch.

“I think we were just being passive. I don’t know if it was their defense or we were being passive,” Shibles said. “But we just emphasized get to the rim, get to the rim, get to the rim. I felt like we made a good job making that adjustment.”

Stymied in its halfcourt offense by Bowdoin’s active zone, Bates connected for only one field goal in the final 6:24.

The Polar Bears’ extended cold snaps came earlier in the half. Numerous possessions concluded in a Bates steal near the top of the key. Others ended with well-contested misses from close range.

Thirteen turnovers spelled trouble in the first half for Bates.

Two baskets by Allaina Murphy of Poland and one each by Kelly and O’ Connell — the latter a 3-pointer — allowed Bates to banish its only deficit of the half.

Beaulieu’s 3-pointer capped a 10-2 run and ngave Bates a 14-9 lead. O’Connell’s four-point outburst made it 26-19 with 2:26 to go before Bowdoin rallied.

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I think we were just being passive, I don’t know if it was their defense or we were being passive. But we just emphasized get to the rim, get to the rim, get to the rim. I felt like we made a good job making that adjustment.

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