Despite a magical run to the Division III Elite Eight, the Women's Basketball Team fell to the University of Southern Maine (USM) in the sectional final three weeks ago. The Polar Bears, who lost in a 56-53 heartbreaker, finished the season with an impressive 27-3 record and their sixth-consecutive NESCAC Championship.

Southern Maine jumped out to an early lead, draining two three pointers to open the contest. But the Polar Bears fired back, scoring 10 consecutive points, including a three pointer by junior Katie Cummings. Less than 10 minutes into the first half, the Polar Bears held a commanding seven-point lead.

But USM, led by star-player Ashley Marble, narrowed the gap. As time ticked away in the first half, Bowdoin and Southern Maine traded baskets. At the half Bowdoin led by 36-33.

The teams opened the second half as they closed the first, fiercely contesting every shot and each rebound. The low-scoring affair was a tribute to the valiant defensive effort demonstrated by both squads. With 13 minutes left to play, the game was knotted at 41.

As time slipped away, the two teams continued to go back and forth. But with less than five minutes left in the game, Marble stepped in for USM and hit two free throws to give Southern Maine the lead.

Bowdoin did not go quietly, getting key baskets from Julia Loonin '07, Justine Pouravelis '06, and Eileen Flaherty '07 to reestablish the lead for the Polar Bears, 53-52.

But Marble continued to dominate in the paint, scoring a putback to give USM the lead with less than two minutes to go. After Bowdoin did not score on the next possession, USM had a chance to put the game nearly out of reach. A shot-clock violation gave the the Bears the ball and a chance to regain the lead. However, a botched pass by the Polar Bears and two key free throws by USM suddenly put game out of reach. Their last ditch effort for a three pointer proved futile, allowing Southern Maine to eke out a 56-53 victory.

Despite the tough loss, the team is proud of what they accomplished this season.

"I don't think the loss against USM should prevent us from looking at how much we accomplished this season. We had a great run," Julia Loonin '07 said.

First-year Maria Noucas agreed.

"We won a lot of really close games and we came together as a team this season," she said.

Although the team will lose four seniors this year, those who will be around for next season are looking forward to competing again.

"Even though we haven't talked much about next season, we've got a lot talent on the team and some solid freshman coming in next year," Loonin said.

-Vanessa Kitchen contributed to this report.