After posting an incredible 9-1 regular season record and 24-1 overall record, the women’s basketball team was upset by Tufts (24-2, NESCAC 8-2) 60-48 in the NESCAC Semifinals in its first double-digit loss of the season. The loss, however, does not signal the end of the team’s season, as it was selected as an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships.
Tufts outscored the team in every quarter for the first time this season and also out-rebounded the Bears 47-34.
“We did not put forth our best effort and lost focus on the game plan and the things that we needed to do to be successful,” wrote Head Coach Adrienne Shibles in an email to the Orient. “Our defensive effort this time around was not as strong this time around and [Tuft’s] defense was more physical and intense.”
Captain Katherine Kerrigan ’18 expressed similar sentiments reflecting on the loss.
“I think a lot of people—everyone—were disappointed, because we knew we didn’t give it our best effort.” Kerrigan said. “We didn’t leave it all out there, so there is a lot of disappointment behind it, but I still think it is an opportunity to rise.”
Despite the loss, the team had a great season, ending with an overall record of 24-2. This has been the most successful season since Shibles became coach. She credits her success to the team’s unity and ability to maintain a positive outlook.
“Our success this year [in the toughest conference in the nation] has been gratifying,” said Shibles. “I credit our senior leadership and the general attitude of our team. Every woman is focused on the team first, and on what she can do help the Polar Bears achieve our goals. They are truly amazing people, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with them.”
On Monday, the team found out it was not only chosen as an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament, but was also chosen to host this year’s competition. The Polar Bears begin the tournament against Husson (19-9), who they beat 88-58 earlier this season, on Friday at 7 p.m.
“[Choosing at-large bids] is a complex process, but the three most important factors in determining at large teams are win-loss percentage, the number of wins against ranked opponents and strength of schedule,” Shibles wrote. “We place well in all three categories. Despite what people think, our schedule was very difficult. There are five conference champs who we competed against and beat during the season.
Despite the team’s success against Husson in January, Shibles is still preparing for a difficult game.
“We intend to take it one game at a time and cherish every moment,” said Shibles. “We are in it to win it, and yet we realize that success will take intense focus on the process.”
Going into the tournament, the team will focus on making it as far as possible.
“Our hope is that we will make a good hard run and make it to the final run in the championship,” said Kerrigan. “There are a lot of great teams in the tournament this year. We can’t take any game off or any game lightly. I think it’s a goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season and something we really strive for now.”