Women’s basketball (21-3, 8-2 NESCAC) extended its winning streak to nine games with a decisive 72-47 victory over Connecticut College (16-9, 4-6 NESCAC) last Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinals. With the win, the Polar Bears will progress to the semifinals this weekend where they will face a dominant Tufts program (24-1, 9-1 NESCAC) that is currently ranked 2nd in the NESCAC and 3rd in the nation. 

Bowdoin last played Tufts in January, where it lost a close game, 46-43. At the time, the Jumbos were still undefeated and Bowdoin made them fight for the win. The three-point difference remains the smallest margin by which Tufts has won all season.

“Last time we went against Tufts at Tufts, we lost by three, which was obviously kind of a heartbreaker because it’s so close, you’re right there,” said captain Rachel Norton ’17.

However, the team is finding motivation in its strong performance against such a formidable opponent. 

“We were right there in a position to win against, at that time, the number one team in the country at their gym,” said Head Coach Adrienne Shibles. “Our team isn’t coming in under any illusions that it’s going to be easy, but we’re really excited for the opportunity to match up with them again and do that at a neutral site.”

Bowdoin has found success by focusing on its own strengths: pace and pressure, depth and its offense. The team hopes to improve upon these strengths and believes its fast-paced, yet balanced offense will be integral in beating Tufts.

“I think the key to beating Tufts is execution on offense and being fearless on offense because their strength as a team is on the defense,” said Shibles. “If you look at their box scores, they don’t put up a lot of points. They definitely have good players who score, but they beat teams because they keep their opponents to very few points.”

Heading into its 17th consecutive NESCAC semifinal, the Polar Bears are excited for another chance to face the Jumbos. The team feels it is stronger than when the teams last met.

“Between the Tufts game and now, we’ve grown so much,” said Norton. “Everyone is playing minutes, we’re so deep, we love to run, we love to tire teams out, so everyone is prepared to fire from all directions. I think it’ll be a battle, but I think it’ll be a great game.” 

The team hopes to build off its dominant performance in the quarterfinals against Connecticut College. Although the Camels seemed to have the upper hand during the first half of the game, Bowdoin outscored them 21-6 in the third quarter and held a sizable lead to win the game. Marle Curle ’17 led the team in scoring with 13 points for the Polar Bears.

“We came out a little slow on the first half, [the Camels] were hitting a lot of shots,” said Shibles. “But at halftime I just talked about being a little more intense on defense while continuing to keep the pace really fast, because Conn. wasn’t able to rest their key players in the first half—they just didn’t have the depth to do it. I knew we could wear them down if pushed harder on defense and wear them down on offense and that’s what we did.”

Bowdoin will take on Tufts this Saturday at 4 p.m. at Amherst.