The Bowdoin women’s basketball team (20-3, 8-2 NESCAC) hopes to carry the momentum of its eight-game win streak into the first round of the NESCAC tournament this weekend. The third-seeded Polar Bears will face off against sixth-seeded Connecticut College (16-8, 4-6 NESCAC) at home in a rematch of last weekend’s game. 

While Bowdoin is the favorite in the face-off as the upper seed and has averaged 74.9 points per game to Conn College’s 68.1, Conn has won eight of its 12 away games this season and will be looking for revenge after losing to Bowdoin 68-49 last weekend.

In the Polar Bears’ dominant performance last Saturday, Lauren Petit ’18 played particularly well, scoring nine points in addition to having two rebounds and two steals. 

“I thought [Petit] had a really solid weekend,” Head Coach Adrienne Shibles said. “She’s really stepping up for us as a leader and someone we can count on.”

Despite the win, however, Shibles believes that the team didn’t perform its best due to the emotions surrounding the senior weekend game. She believes the team has room to improve on Saturday.

“We have five phenomenal senior leaders so whenever you have a strong group like that there is a sort of propensity towards everyone wanting to do their best for the seniors,” said Shibles. “There were times when our offense didn’t flow just quite the way it normally does.”

 The team seeks to constantly improve and not remain complacent. The Camels’ leading scorer Mairead Hynes ’18 did not play last weekend yet will return in time for the first playoff game and the Polar Bears will restrategize to counter the center’s big presence.  

“Now we begin a whole new chapter in our season,” Shibles said. “We can’t just rest on our laurels on what we did before. The importance of this week is staying focused on what we can do to improve.”

This year is the eighth time in the past nine seasons the team reached 20 wins under Shibles, a clear mark of her contributions to the team’s work ethic and chemistry. 

“We look for selflessness and hard work,” Shibles said. “We look for overall character in our recruits we bring to Bowdoin, so that’s the first step—getting the right people. And from there we are pretty intentional about what we do. We talk a lot about our team values, try to emphasize them during practice and we do a lot of team bonding exercises. Those things are really responsible for our team chemistry.”

The players echo the same sentiment and stress the importance of supporting each other. 

“We always have each other’s backs on and off the court and I think that’s what really unites us. When we are on the court, we can go through anything together,” captain Marle Curle ’17 said. “Moving forward, that becomes even more important as the season gets longer and the games get more important, it is important to have one another’s best interests at heart.” 

The team began the season with a record of 8-0 before losing a nail-biting 46-43 game against Tufts (23-1, 9-1 NESCAC) in January. The game was not only the closest matchup the Polar Bears have had all season, but was the smallest margin the Jumbos—No. 3 in the nation—have won by this year.

According to Curle, it was strong senior leadership that pushed the team to get back on their feet and keep moving forward after the loss. Shibles agrees that the seniors’ presence on the team has been indispensable.

“I think the only reason we are here is the five seniors we have on the team,” Shibles said. “They have just exemplified the values of our program and contributed to the larger Bowdoin community in amazing ways.”

Besides strong team chemistry and leadership, the team, at 16 players, has the numbers to outlast its opponents.  

“That’s a huge strength because the depth allows us to run on teams the whole game, to pressure teams the whole game,” said captain Rachel Norton ’17. “Most teams don’t play as many players as we do so at the point in the game when they get tired we have another layer of players to throw at them.”

While the team’s strong performance this season bodes well for this weekend, the players enter the playoffs taking it one game at a time. 

“At this point nothing is guaranteed,” said Norton. “You have the game in front of you and you have to win to move on, so we are definitely not looking past Connecticut College coming here Saturday. Especially as a senior, this is my last go around and I’m super excited and don’t want this to end. I just want to keep playing as long as possible.”