HARTFORD, Conn. — The Bates College women’s basketball team captured its first NESCAC championship by defeating nationally ranked Amherst 52-41 in the conference title game Sunday.

The victory earns the Bobcats an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Bates is only the fourth school to win a NESCAC championship, joining Bowdoin (which has won nine times), Amherst (eight) and Tufts (three).

The fifth-seed Bobcats dominated the third-seeded Mammoths for the first three quarters, holding them to 20 points and leading 40-20 heading into the final period.

Amherst, ranked No. 8 in the nation, fought back in the fourth quarter, holding Bates scoreless while slowly chipping away at the deficit. The Mammoths scored the first 11 points of the fourth and held the Bobcats without a point until Ariana Dalia made a free throw with 3:37 remaining that made the score 41-31.

While they weren’t scoring, the Bobcats continued to play solid defense, forcing Amherst to earn its 11-0 run, and continued to pull down key rebounds. They out-rebounded the Mammoths 53-36. Dalia finished the game with 12 rebounds and Brianna Gadaleta pulled down 16.


Dalia’s free throw started a 5-0 Bates run. Dalia added two more free throw and Gadaleta hit a pair to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 46-31 with 2:10 remaining.

Amherst again fought back, hitting three unanswered 3-pointers (by Courtney Resch, Lauren Pelosi and AnLing Vera) in 75 seconds to cut Bates’ lead down to five points, 45-40, with 43 seconds remaining.

Meghan Graff sealed the game at the free-throw line for the Bobcats, making six in the final 43 seconds.

All 11 of Bates’ fourth-quarter points came from the foul line. Graff, who led all scorers with 20 points, made 8 of 10 free throws. As a team, the Bobcats made 18 of 22.

Mia Roy added 12 points for Bates, while Dalia and Gadaleta each contributed eight.

The Mammoths were led by the 13 points of Dani Valdez. Vera scored 11.

Amherst finishes the season with a 21-3 record. Two of their three losses were to Bates. The Bobcats also beat the Mammoths 52-49 on Jan. 14.

Bates was playing in its fifth NESCAC tournament title game. They reached it four straight years, from 2003-06, but fell short each time.

The NCAA tournament selection show is Monday at 2:30 p.m. and can be watched online at NCAA.com.

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