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The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

In Final Alumni Gym Game, Bates Defeats Widener University to Advance to Sweet Sixteen

Players+celebrate+after+advancing+to+the+Sweet+Sixteen+for+the+third+time+in+program+history.
Carly Philpott
Players celebrate after advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in program history.

As the minutes dwindled in the fourth quarter, Bates put up an ultimately insurmountable lead over Widener University, and the crowd went wild. Alumni Gymnasium erupted into a raucous rendition of “Happy Birthday to You,” singing to Head Coach Alison Montgomery. She was turning 41.

But it was much, much bigger than a 41st birthday.

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

It was the final example of what women’s basketball has been referring to as “Alumni Magic” all season. The team has packed the gym for all of its major matches. And in their final home game, Bates did not disappoint.

The game was tense from start to finish. The first two quarters were rocky for Bates and scarily close, but they managed to increase their field goal percentage every quarter, and in the final minutes, guard Sarah Hughes ‘27 took it away, putting up 10 points for Bates to end in a 79-66 lead. She credited Alumni’s energy with the run.

“My teammates were all hyping each other up. The energy is really unmatched and gets me really riled up,” Hughes said. “When you pick up a basketball, you dream of stuff like this.”

As a freshman, Hughes is already emerging as a team leader. 

“It makes me so proud,” captain and guard Morgan Kennedy ‘24 said. “I mean, I don’t expect anything less, though. Sarah, she puts that pressure on us every day in practice. She shows up every single day in practice, and she works extremely hard.”

From Widener’s side, the game was evenly matched for most of it, and a challenge they were expecting. Still, it was a disappointing end to an impressive underdog season. 

“I define [this season] as one of the best in school history,” Head Coach Alisa Kintner said. “We were 11-15 last season with nobody graduating and everyone back. So to me, I think this gives credit to every player on this team for working out in the summer and getting hungry.”

Widener post-Mia Robbins ‘26 led the game with 26 points scored. Still, in the end, it was not enough to take Bates down.

“We’ve heard our players say over and over that they’re not satisfied. They’re not done yet,” Montgomery said. “And this team is special. Our seniors are special. So we want a couple more weeks.”

For those seniors, this game was a fantastic end to their Alumni Gym careers.

“This was a great environment, the best feeling ever, seeing the way we brought the whole community together, the whole school, seeing all the student section come and show up for us,” guard Davina Kabantu ‘24 said. “It’s just the best feeling ever, and I think better when we deliver.”

Bates will next play Wartburg College, who beat Illinois Wesleyan University 62-59, at Rhode Island College on March 8. It is Bates’ third time in the Sweet Sixteen – their first time since 2005 and their first time winning two games to get there.

“This is what we expected and what we worked for, but [we’re] also soaking it in and understanding what it took to be one of the last 16 teams standing,” Montgomery said. “Morgan and I were just debating whether this was the best day of my life or close to the best day of my life. I don’t know, it feels pretty darn good.”

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About the Contributor
Carly Philpott, Assistant News Editor
Carly is a first-year from Centennial, Colo. The Student was a major reason she chose Bates after a longtime love for journalism. You can find Carly at the Bates Historical Society or taking photos of ducks on the Puddle for the Bates Communications Office. She also enjoys quality time with her pet toads, pictured.

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