The women’s basketball team (21-1, NESCAC 7-1) is continuing its strong play and has now won over 20 games for its fourth year in a row after beating Middlebury 70-52 on Friday. This is the ninth time the Polar Bears have reached this plateau in the 10 years Head Coach Adrienne Shibles has been leading the program. The Polar Bears continued the momentum against Williams, beating the Ephs 73-47 last Saturday.
“In our league, we’re only allowed 24 regular season games,” said Shibles, “So to hit the 20-win plateau in a season shows you’re being really efficient and that you’ve had a lot of success throughout the year.”
Bowdoin will play its last two conference games this weekend against Connecticut College and Wesleyan. Then the team will begin tournament play.
Currently ranked second in the NESCAC, a championship title seems likely for the Polar Bears, but captain Kate Kerrigan ’18 warned against relying on the team’s past victories.
“Every weekend is a battle, especially in the NESCAC,” said Kerrigan. “Every team you face is good. You have to show up every weekend; otherwise, you could lose. I think that’s something that makes the NESCAC special.”
In preparation for this weekend, the players spent the first half of the week focusing on improving their overall performance. Then, they practiced drills and plays to counter specific defensive and offensive techniques.
“They’re both very good teams,” said Shibles. “They have a good balance of big posts and talented guard play, so I think [the] key to success for us is the defensive intensity we bring and defensive focus.”
Shibles said that a lack of focus against Amherst two weeks ago led to the team’s first loss. At the top of the NESCAC rankings, Bowdoin and Amherst could face off for the championship.
Captain Lydia Caputi ’18 does not doubt the team’s skills but indicated areas for improvement before the tournament begins.
“We just had a couple too many mental lapses when we played [Amherst],” Caputi said. “We’ve been making an effort to hold each other a little bit more accountable when it happens in practice. The good thing is, in that loss we had a lot of controllable mistakes that if we don’t make [again], we win.”
Playing in Wesleyan’s senior game on Sunday, the Polar Bears will have to maintain their composure against a competitive team and enthusiastic crowd.
“There’s always a lot of emotion attached to those particular senior games, so it won’t be easy to go on the road and get a win,” said Shibles.
Last weekend, the women’s basketball team celebrated its seniors with a time-honored tradition: mother-daughter basketball. Junior and senior moms were pitted against first years and sophomores, with only the mothers allowed to score. Fathers participated in a “Hot Shot” competition at halftime.
“My mom [was] quite horrible, but it’s fun,” said Caputi. “It’s a way for us to express our gratitude toward our parents.”
When Shibles came to Bowdoin 10 years ago, the team insisted this was one tradition that couldn’t go away. Now, Shibles has her own legacy. She created a team built on technique and relationships, which has proved to be a winning combination.
“Her emphasis [is] on the program’s culture,” said Caputi. “She recruits a specific type of student-athlete, someone who’s going to be committed to the excellence of our program, is going to have a really high standard for themselves in the classroom [and] is going to be an advocate for themselves and their teammates. [Shibles] fosters really great relationships with her players, and I think that’s where it all begins.”
The team will play at Connecticut College today at 7 p.m. and at Wesleyan tomorrow at 3 p.m.