The experience and fortitude of the women's basketball team will be put to the test today in what could be Bowdoin's final game of the season.

After getting ousted from the NESCAC playoffs in a 55-40 loss to Tufts in the semifinals, the Polar Bears (19-7) will face the University of Southern Maine in the first round of the NCAA D-III tournament at 6 p.m. tonight in Ithaca, N.Y.

This will be the women's 12th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Bowdoin has won at least one tournament game in each of its past 11 seasons, which constitutes the longest such streak in D-III basketball. The Polar Bears have reached the tournament's "sweet 16" for the past two years.

Given the team's tournament history, captain Jill Henrikson '12 was not surprised when it got the bid on Monday.

"We knew we had a really good chance," she said, noting that the team has made dramatic improvements over the course of the season. "Everyone on the team has gotten a lot more confidence, going into every game knowing that we are a threat."

On Saturday, Bowdoin scored the first 11 points of the game, five of them by captain Amy Hackett '12. Bowdoin led 23-20 going into halftime, but could not maintain the lead and was outscored 35-17 in the second half.

"We played an outstanding first half but allowed Tufts' physicality to bother us in the second half," wrote Head Coach Adrienne Shibles in an email to the Orient. "We learned that we have to deal with physical teams in a more constructive way. It's okay to respond with emotion, but that emotion needs to fuel positive, controlled play."

Henrikson, who scored 10 points on Saturday and was named as an All-NESCAC First Team selection on Wednesday, believes that the team's main focus right now should be Friday's game. She said she believes that physicality, confidence and focus will help the Bowdoin bounce back from its loss to Tufts.

The Polar Bears, who lost to Southern Maine 63-49 in November, have done their research in the hope of retaliating with a win tonight.

To prepare, Henrikson said that Shibles used scouting reports to help the team learn as much as possible about its upcoming opponents. The team also used film to review plays and how to best defend against their opponents' strengths.

"They have a big post player who we need to contain in the paint," Henrikson said of Southern Maine. "They also have another really good shooter, who we need to be aware of at all times. Most importantly though, we have to play our game and push the tempo."

The game will be streamed live online by the Ithaca College Television at