This past weekend, the women’s basketball team displayed another stellar performance, beating Hamilton College 87-54 and extending its undefeated streak to 19 games. The streak, however, was broken on Saturday in a nail-biting 49-45 loss against Amherst, the top-ranked team in the nation.
Bowdoin set the pace for a dominant victory early on in the Hamilton game by getting off to a 23-13 lead in the first quarter and extending its lead by beginning the second quarter with a 10-0 run. By halftime, the Polar Bears were winning 53-25, thus deflating Hamilton early in the game.
Bowdoin dominated Hamilton down low, scoring a total of 42 points in the paint. Abby Kelly ’19 led Bowdoin’s offense, netting 14 points and gathering four rebounds for the Polar Bears.
The team attributes its success against Hamilton to team defense and fast pace. Bowdoin forced a total of 17 turnovers and netted 15 points off of those turnovers.
“They have six-foot guards playing in the post that can rebound, shoot threes and take you off the dribble, so we knew that defending them was going to be a huge part of our game plan,” said Head Coach Adrienne Shibles.
“Big box outs and post defense are some of the things that we really focused on this past week,” said Hannah Graham ’19. “They came out and played really well against us. [Hamilton] shot the ball well, but at the end we just had more strength.”
The following day, the Polar Bears traveled to Amherst to tip off against the Mammoths. Both teams entered the game with 19-0 records. The anticipation of this matchup made for an exciting atmosphere at the LeFrank Gymnasium, which hosted 528 spectators.
“Amherst put a lot of energy into creating an environment that was challenging for us,” said Shibles.
Despite facing off against the defending national champions, the Polar Bears entered the game with confidence given their past success this season.
“We knew they were going to be a really good opponent and it was a really intense game in a really fun atmosphere,” said captain Lauren Petit ’18.
The score remained close for all four quarters. However, Amherst went on a 9-3 run late in the game. Bowdoin had three chances to tie the game with under a minute left, but Amherst prevented the Polar Bears from netting any heroic buckets.
Kate Kerrigan ’18 led both teams with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Her scoring was complimented by a 12-point performance from Abby Kelly ’19.
The game was, statistically, the closest that the team has played this season. The players hope to use their experience in the close matchup as a learning experience for both the remainder of the regular season and the postseason.
“They definitely exposed our weakness, so now we know where we need to work on things, whether it be physical or mental,” said Graham. “We haven’t been in a lot of these situations, so when we are down two points in the fourth quarter, and we need a bucket, we now know how to react to that. And I guess it is good that this happened to us during the season and not in the postseason, because in the postseason you only get one chance. Now we can learn from it.”
The Polar Bears have just four remaining regular season games, including two home games against Middlebury and Williams this weekend. These games will have a large impact on the conference standings and potentially for the NCAA tournament this March.