LEWISTON — Bates College tallied baskets on top of buckets to propel the Bobcats to a 79-66 victory over Widener University in a second-round NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament game Saturday at Alumni Gym.

The Bobcats advance to the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history.

“I think we just achieved something that we’ve had our sights on and believed was more than possible,” Bates coach Alison Montgomery said. “I think we are taking a moment to just be really excited for what we’ve achieved thus far. But, we’ve heard our players say over and over that they’re not satisfied. They’re not done yet.”

Widener was first to put points on the board with a basket by Jordan D’Ambrosio. The Bobcats (24-5) and the Pride (24-5) alternated scoring until Bates dumped two baskets and a free throw near the end of the first quarter, making the score 16-10 at the end of the frame.

“It was exactly the type of game that we thought it was going to be,” Widener coach Alisa Kintner said. “It was going to be extremely fast, it was a track meet. I think both teams are in excellent shape; you didn’t see either team dying off.”

Scoring dramatically picked up on both ends of the court in the second quarter, thanks to Mia Robbins on Widener adding 10 points of the Pride’s 22 points and Bates senior Morgan Kennedy chipping in seven of the 19 second-quarter points for the Bobcats.


Robbins said the difference for the Pride between this year’s tournament appearances and last year’s season was the rigorous offseason training by the team, as well as the maturity in players across the board.

“I was like, I want to come back and I don’t want to feel how I felt freshman year and how we just kept on losing and losing and losing,” Robbins said. “I knew that it was Jordan’s (D’Ambrosio) last year, and I wanted to win for her because she deserves it. She’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with, so she deserves everything.”

D’Ambrosio faced many obstacles going into Saturday’s game, including a pulled hamstring from the Friday night matchup against Springfield coupled with getting sick multiple times during the game.

“She kept saying, ‘I’m good, I’m good,’ throw up and then get back on the court,” Kintner said. “So those kids are hard to find and I’m going to miss that toughness. I love tough kids and she has it, this kid has it, so we’re definitely going to miss her.”

Bates took a slim 35-32 lead into halftime.

“We just talked about in the locker room, like, within a game, you have to be able to make adjustments because you’re not familiar with teams and players,” Montgomery said about Widener’s scoring threat, Robbins. “We can do our preparation, but you have to kind of figure that out, too, in the flow.”


In the third quarter, Bates stretched that advantage out by outscoring Widener 20-16. Scoring for the Bobcats was evenly distributed, and the same back and forth scoring efforts of the first half bled into the second half.

Montgomery also said the Bobcats ran into some foul trouble, as did Widener, but she felt like the players stepped up and did their jobs, finishing on foul shots, despite the referees calling a tight game. Kintner added that the tight-called game was unfamiliar to the Pride, but a characteristic of NESCAC referees that she had noticed through watching film.

“So in our conference, we go to the foul line more than anybody else by a lot,” Kintner said. “We’re used to that, but we’re not used to almost every other possession. I think there was 17 foul calls yesterday in the first quarter and I think it was 14 today. I think that frustration got us a little bit, we’re just not used to that style of play.”

In the fourth quarter, Bates found freshman Sarah Hughes for two 3-pointers, channeling the beginning of the end for the Pride. Hughes finished with 18 points and was the game’s third-highest scorer, behind Kennedy’s team-leading 22 points and Robbins’ game-high 26 points.

“Honestly, it’s Alumni Gym, everyone’s showing up, the energy gets going and my teammates, we’re all hyping each other up. The energy is just unmatched, it gets me really riled up,” Hughes said about her fourth-quarter finish.

Morgan Kennedy said despite Hughes only being a freshman, she’s not surprised at how well she performed Saturday.


“I don’t expect anything less though, like, Sarah, she puts that pressure on us every day in practice,” Kennedy said. “She shows up every single day in practice, and she works extremely hard, so I’m not surprised.”

Sophomore Ava James also earned a shoutout from Montgomery for her standout performance in Saturday’s game, playing for 11 minutes, knocking down her lone shot attempt and converting a pair of free throws, and making multiple defensive stops.

“You have to have people step up, and you have to manage that possession by possession,” Montgomery said. “I think people did their job, and our leadership is really, really good to maintain poise, and belief and trust, even in the flows of a game when we have some adversity.”

Saturday’s win was a special one for Montgomery, as she was also celebrating her 41st birthday. At one point, all of Alumni Gym sang her “Happy Birthday” during the game, which she joked that it needed to end because a player missed their shot during the song.

“I just said to the team, like you guys doing what you love with people you love, being committed and doing it together,” Montgomery said. “You brought so much joy to our community, and just seeing the way it brings people together, I mean, that’s amazing. It’s more than all those people in there having fun, having pride in our school, in our community; that’s really what it means.”

D’Ambrosio added that the level of community and parental support from Widener meant a lot at Saturday’s game, especially because many took off work, and traveled from far and wide to support the team for the road game in Lewiston.


“It’s nice to see your parents, they’re your number one fans and they’ve always got your back, so that’s a really good feeling,” D’Ambrosio said.

Hughes added that “when you pick up a basketball, you dream of stuff like this,” so Saturday’s win means a lot to her.

“Being a freshman and having all this happen is just, I couldn’t have picked a better place or picked better people,” Hughes said. “I just love it here.”

Bates is returning to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, and before that the Bobcats advanced that far in 1998. This NCAA tournament is also the first that the Bobcats have not had a bye, playing in both the round of 64 and the round of 32.

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