LEWISTON — Bowdoin College built a big lead but had to hold on for a 62-57 win in a non-conference women’s basketball game against rival Bates College on Thursday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Polar Bears led 35-15 at the half but Bates (5-3) stormed back in the second half in part because of the play of their star player Meghan Graff. The senior from South Portland scored 21 of her game-high 27 points in the final 20 minutes.

“The thing I take out of this game is Meghan Graff is an incredible player,” Bowdoin coach Meg Phelps said. “When I am not (coaching) against her, she’s pretty fun to watch. Bates did an awesome job; this is an incredible environment to play in. It was a fun game.”

In the third quarter, Graff started to warm up with 10 points, but the Polar Bears (7-1) responded with buckets of their own and entered the fourth quarter with a 52-35 lead.

After Bowdoin’s leading scorer Sydney Jones — who tallied 22 points — hit a free throw early in the fourth quarter, Bates went on a 14-0 run.

It started with a Graff jumper and then Davina Kabantu splashed a 3-pointer. Graff then scored the next seven points, cutting the deficit to 53-47.


Sophie Spolter’s trey got the Bobcats within one possession for the first time since the first quarter.

Jones’ layup and free throw helped stretch Bowdoin’s lead to 58-52.

After another Graff layup, Kabantu hit one of two free throws, cutting the deficit to 58-55 with 2:39 remaining in the fourth.

“She was a nice spark,” Bates coach Alison Montgomery said of Kabantu. “She competes and she’s a good defender.”

Kabantu scored 10 points in the game, which was second-most for Bates behind Graff.

A Carly Davey free throw gave Bowdoin a 59-55 lead.


“I was super proud of my team. We had been in some close games of course the first semester. That experience really showed today,” Phelps said. “Carly Davey, a freshman point guard, has to step up and play big minutes when our junior point guard Megan Tan goes down. I thought (Davey) did an excellent job.”

Davey recorded three points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in the game.

After the Davey free throw, Spolter came up again with a layup driving the lane to get Bates within two.

“We are super excited about Sophie,” Montgomery said. “She’s such a competitor and super smart. There’s so much on Meghan, in terms of being the point and having to score for us. It’s really nice to have Sophie in that point position to alleviate Meghan a little bit.”

Spolter finished with five points.

Those were the last points Bates scored, as Bowdoin went to the free-throw line looking to ice the game. Sela Kay hit two and Jones hit one to seal the victory.


Mongomery said the Bobcats can’t get in an early hole like they did if they want to win the game.

“If we want to compete with a team that is that good, we have to do it more than one quarter,” Mongomery said. “Credit to Bowdoin, they challenged us in a lot of ways and we weren’t ready to respond. They came at us in a way that we didn’t respond to. It’s hard, once you expended all that energy, to come back; it’s hard to finish it off.”

The Polar Bears opened the game on an 8-2 run, with Jones leading the way.

She wasn’t afraid to drive the lane for a layup and she scored six of those opening eight points.

“I think it was very important to get us into a transition,” Jones said. “We are a really fast team. So we knew how important it was to push it up the court. I think it was really good for me, personally, to be able to get to the rim the first couple of minutes of the game to get us going.”

Bates battled back and got within 8-6 but the Polar Bears went on a 10-4 run to close out the first quarter for an 18-10 advantage.


Graff and Jenna Berens each notched four points for the Bobcats in the opening quarter.

Bowdoin went on an 11-0 run to start the second quarter. The star of the run was Annie Boasberg, who had back-to-back 3s to close the spree, giving the Polar Bears a 29-10 lead.

A Graff basket stopped the bleeding for the Bobcats after Montgomery called a timeout.

Jones chipped in with five points for the Polar Bears in the second as Bowdoin took a 35-15 lead into halftime.

“I think Sydney is just starting to figure it out,” Phelps said. “She’s a really special player and she’s a really special leader. She hits big shots for us. I am really proud of how she keeps improving, day in and day out.”

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