The women’s basketball team is off to a 6-0 start after beating the University of Southern Maine (USM) on Tuesday, the best beginning to a season since Bowdoin won 10 straight games to start the 2009-10 season.
The team narrowly edged out USM with a 62-56 win. It was another balanced attack for the Polar Bears with Brady, Phelps, and Prue all scoring in double digits. Marle Curle ’17 added a team-high four assists and initiated an 11-5 Polar Bear run to close out the game.
“They’re always a very strong program. They’re very similar to us in that they have a very strong inside-out game,” said Head Coach Adrienne Shibles. “Offensively we worked a lot on execution this week [in preparation for Southern Maine] really trying to move forward and learn from the UNE game.”
A 64-59 win over the University of New England (4-1) on November 26 has been the women’s narrowest margin of victory to date. The home win was a significant improvement over last year, when the Polar Bears lost to the Nor’easters by 40 points. Captain Sara Binkhorst ’15 shined in the revenge match, scoring a career-high 23 points.
The two teams were evenly matched throughout the game. Although the Polar Bears shot much better from the field than the Nor’easters, UNE had 18 steals and forced an additional 10 turnovers in the contest to keep the game close.
After taking a 31-23 lead into halftime, sophomore Shannon Brady’s domination in the paint allowed the Polar Bears to stretch their lead after the intermission. The Nor’easters would not let up, however, and erased a 12-point deficit to take the lead with 4:36 remaining in the game. But Binkhorst, capping off a 10-5 run, iced the game with a pair of free throws.
“They’re a perennial NCAA tournament team,” said Shibles. “We knew it was going to be a battle so to see that kind of progress in a year is really rewarding as a coach.”
“They’re a good program and a well-coached team so we’ve been looking forward to this game since this time last year,” said Binkhorst. “We just have to do a better job of looking weak side, finding the open person, and moving the ball around.”
Although she says the team needs to be more careful with the ball in future, Shibles is thrilled with how it handled the pressure and finished the game.
“We certainly have some things to work on in regard to taking care of the ball and making more effective passes but to see us, down the stretch, make our free throws and do all the little things, I think that’s a great sign for things to come,” she said.
The week before, the Polar Bears handily defeated Bates 76-40 in an out-of-conference game, avenging two losses to the Bobcats last season. Binkhorst, Brady, Megan Phelps ’15 and Kirsten Prue ’14 all put up double-digit points in the win. Bowdoin’s balanced attack confounded the Bobcats defensively and the game was all but over after Bowdoin opened up the second half with a 21-2 run.
“It felt great to play that well, especially against Bates,” said Binkhorst. “I think we played 40 minutes of Bowdoin basketball and it showed.”
“We carried out our defensive plan perfectly,” added Shibles. “The communication and intelligence on defense was really solid. Bates is a team that really likes to run so we worked a lot on our transition defense, and that made a huge difference in that game.”
The team plays Colby tomorrow and Worcester State on Monday as it looks to continue its winning streak.