The women’s basketball team fell 81-67 to Thomas More (33-0) in the NCAA DIII championship game in Salem, Virginia, Saturday night. It is the second straight year Bowdoin has fallen just short of the title, after the Polar Bears lost to Amherst in the championship game last year.
The team ends the season with a 31-2 record. The 31 wins is a new program best, topping the 2003-2004 season, when Bowdoin also made it to the championship game.
Bowdoin got off the a hot start and led 19-16 at the end of the first quarter, but the team struggled to find success as the game continued. A taller Thomas More squad out-muscled the Polar Bears in the paint and went ahead with a 12-0 run in the second quarter from which Bowdoin never recovered. Trailing 38-34 entering the second half, the squad from Brunswick struggled with shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, and a third quarter rally was slowed by three missed free throws.
Abby Kelly ’19, who was named First Team WBCA All-American earlier this week, had a stellar game, leading the Polar Bears with 27 points. She finishes her Bowdoin career with 1272 points, sixth all time in Bowdoin history. Hannah Graham ’19 scored 14 points and Maddie Hasson ’20 had 12, while Taylor Choate ’19 and Samantha Roy ’20 comparatively struggled, scoring six and three points respectively. First-year Sela Kay got a taste of championship action, scoring two points.
Though they trailed by double-digits in the fourth quarter, the Polar Bears never quit, with Graham shooting the team’s final basket—and the last of her Bowdoin career—with 22 seconds remaining. Still, it wasn’t enough to top the Cincinnati-area university which also took home the NCAA DIII championship in 2016.
Thomas More junior Kaela Saner led her squad with 20 points, and senior Madison Temple was named the game’s MVP after scoring 17.
The Polar Bears have plenty to be proud of after another stellar season, without a doubt. The NCAA championship, though, remains elusive.