Members of the Bates College women’s basketball team, coaches, staff and others react Monday afternoon in the foyer of Alumni Gymnasium on the campus in Lewiston. They were cheering when Bates was announced while watching a video feed of the tournament bracket selection broadcast. They will play Roger Williams in their first game of the tournament. In the front row from left to right are Amaari WIlliams, Ariana Dalia, Sarah Bennett and Jenna Berens. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Bates College women’s basketball team produced a school history-making stretch of prosperity in early 2022.

The Bobcats built a solid 17-7 regular-season record and scooped up their first NESCAC crown, beating Amherst College 52-41 in the conference championship game in late February.

Bates’ Mia Roy (2) and Meghan Graff (14) watch the action during a January 2022 game against Hamilton in Alumni Gym in Lewiston. Phyllis Graber Jensen photo

Bates women’s coach Alison Montgomery told the Sun Journal that she wasn’t astounded that her Bobcats grabbed their first-ever NESCAC crown and qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament — which Bates hadn’t done since 2006.

“It feels great, but it also feels like this is exactly where we should be,” Montgomery said. “I’m not at all surprised. Our team has put in the work, I think we have a really talented group, and so I fully expected that we would be competing for a championship this season, yeah, and certainly, in our conference. That means you have a great chance at the national conference. It’s where we expected to be.”

The Bobcats had been to the NESCAC championship four times (2003-06), but came home empty-handed on all four occasions until the 2022 season.

In the conference title game, Bates’ defense put the kibosh on the Mammoths’ offense, holding Amherst, which was ranked No. 8 in the country, to 20 points over the first three quarters. Megan Graff turned in a game-high 20 points and didn’t flinch at the free-throw line, going 8 for 10. Equally impressive was the Bobcats’ 18-for-22 shooting from the foul line as a team.


“Obviously, it’s a huge accomplishment for us to win our conference, but we definitely have bigger goals ahead of us,” junior guard Meghan Graff told the Sun Journal the following day. “Winning the NESCAC conference was one of our many goals, and making a huge run in the NCAA tournament is definitely above all the other goals.

“We can’t be satisfied with just one championship. Once you win one championship, you’ve got to start focusing on the next one.”

Bates’ appetite for winning was ferocious and they carried that motivation into the first round of the NCAA tournament in New York, where the the Bobcats faced Roger Williams — which won the Commonwealth Conference to get to the NCAAs.

Roger Williams and Bates turned the game into a nail-biter that ended up in overtime thanks to the Bobcats’ Mia Roy (13 points, 8 for 9 at the free-throw line), who landed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game.

The Bobcats got the upper-hand with help from the four points of Ariana Dalia’s career- and game-high 27 points. Meghan Graff supplied 18 points and went for an even 9 for 9 at the charity stripe as Bates topped Roger Williams 68-64 to move on to the second round.

Host New York University put an end to the Bobcats season with a 76-54 victory. Morgan Kennedy, Graff and Taylor McVeigh led Bates’ offense, scoring 14 points, 13 and 10, respectively.


The Bobcats’ seeds for success began to flourish during the regular season when they beat CBB nemesis Bowdoin College twice and stunned top-seeded Trinity College on its home court in the NESCAC semifinals.

Postseason accolades were bounteous for the Bobcats, particularly for Graff and Montgomery.

Bates College women’s basketball coach Alison Montgomery gives instructions to her team during a November 2021 game against the University of Maine Farmington at Alumni Gymnasium in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Graff was named the NESCAC Player of the Year, Region 1 Player of the Year (Mia Roy was named to the third team), and was selected to the All-American second team.

Montgomery was awarded the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year and was announced as a finalist for the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year honor.

The pair are back with a slightly different squad this season, but one that does feature many members of the magical 2021-22 season. The Bobcats are 5-3, and Graff has scored 23 or more points in five of the eight games. She is on pace to break the program’s career scoring mark in mid-January.


Editor’s note: The top 10 area sports stories of 2022 were voted on by the Sun Journal sports staff.

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