While much of Polar Bear Nation was at home hibernating over break, the women's basketball team was sprinting up and down the court in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at the Posada Royale Holiday Classic.

A winter of games and training has put the team in a solid position for the stretch leading up to the NESCAC tournament.

Since the beginning of winter break, the Polar Bears have gone 7-3, with two of those losses decided by less than four points.

With a 13-5 record thus far, the team is satisfied with its standing and with the progress it has made through the season.

"I think we've made big strides since the beginning of the season," said captain Jill Henrikson '12. "Losing to Amherst by four points and beating Trinity by 17 shows the progress we've made as a team."

Bowdoin lost to Amherst in a nail-biting 63-59 finish, a rematch of last year's NESCAC final.

The Lord Jeffs were barely able to pull away in the final minutes, and such a showing against the top-ranked team D-III team in the country demonstrates that the Polar Bears can compete against even the best teams.

A 69-53 loss to Bates was the team's worst game of the stretch. The Polar Bears shot a mere 36 percent from the floor and were 1-12 from behind the arc, resulting in Bowdoin's only loss to a sub-.500 team this season.

Henrikson, a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week this season, is cementing herself as one of the best all-around players in the conference; she leads all players in scoring and steals and is one of the top performers in 3-point percentage, free throw percentage, and rebounds. She also leads Bowdoin's scoring offense, ranked third in the NESCAC.

While both Henrikson and head coach Adrienne Shibles have maintained that defense remains the calling card of this team, the Polar Bears have still given up the eighth-most points per game in the conference.

Adding to that has been their rebounding struggles, in particular on the offensive glass where they rank dead last.

The Polar Bears also rank in the bottom half of the league in defensive rebounds per game.

The return of Nicole Coombes '12 to the basketball court may help abate the team's struggles.

After missing 10 games to an early season injury, Coombes' mere presence on the court has made an impact even without filling up the stat sheet.

"She takes up a lot of space in the paint and has some great post-moves for us. If we're talking about offensive rebounds, she's great at it and it's great for us," said Henrikson.

Listed as a forward at six feet, the addition of Coombes gives the Polar Bears something the team has been lacking all season: size.

A season removed from leading the team in field goal percentage and blocks, the hope is that Coombes will contribute a much-needed increase of scoring, rebounding and defense in the paint that could prove vital for the remainder of the season.

An emerging player that has contributed greatly to the Polar Bears recently is guard Sara Binkhorst '15.

After getting limited minutes of play in the early portion of the season, Binkhorst received her first start against Emmanuel College and dropped an astonishing 21 points.

She has averaged 10.5 points in the six games since, starting five of them.

Overall, the Polar Bears are in a solid position, primed to make another run at the NESCAC title and an NCAA berth.

The team's chemistry, made more potent by a winter together, will be a major strength going forward.

"Your success as a team is based almost all on your chemistry and how you work together," said Henrikson, "and not just your relationship on the court but off the court."