The past month has been a busy one for the team. Head Coach Adrienne Shibles netted her 400 career win with an emphatic 19-point victory over Colby on December 7. Soon afterwards, the team traveled to California in late December, returning to the east coast with a pair of victories over Chapman University and California Lutheran University. All the while, the Polar Bears have gained momentum and continued their perfect streak, led by players including captain Maddie Hasson ’20 (who recently became the eighth Bowdoin player to score 1,000 career points) and breakout sophomore Sela Kay, who lead the NESCAC in field goal and three-point percentage, respectively.
Hasson, who is currently shooting a league-best 66.7 percent from the field, is optimistic about the Polar Bears’ chances over the course of this challenging stretch late in the season, when Bowdoin will close out its regular-season NESCAC play, and well beyond.
“We play in a really competitive conference,” said Hasson. “And a long postseason run is really what we are hoping for and have been preparing for.”
Tremendous success over the past few years under Shibles has meant that the Polar Bears have become perennial favorites to win the NESCAC tournament and go deep in the NCAA Division III Championship.
In the past two seasons in particular, Bowdoin has been untouchable before falling at the final hurdle. The Polar Bears have reached the championship game of the NCAA tourney for two years in a row, and came within six points of winning a NESCAC title last winter. Since the 2017-18 season, the Polar Bears have won 60 games while only losing five, a fearsome record.
Next Friday, the team will face Tufts in what is sure to be an electric game. The Jumbos have knocked Bowdoin out of the NESCAC tournament for two consecutive years. Despite the energy and emotion building up to such a crucial game, Shibles insists the team is taking the process one game at a time rather than fixating on Tufts as the target.
“I’m focused on Colby right now, and that is our philosophy: the next game is the most important game,” said Shibles.
Guard Annie Boasberg ’22, who has not played this season due to injury, said her time off the court has shown just how special and close-knit the team is.
“[Sitting out for the season] has re-emphasized how close we are and the camaraderie between us, because even though I’ve been injured this entire season, I haven’t felt like I’ve been apart from the team or isolated,” said Boasberg. “On the bench, I feel the same energy that I would feel if I was still playing.”
Despite the loss of Boasberg and graduating all-star performers such as 1,000-point career scorer Abby Kelly ’19 and all-NESCAC defensive standout Taylor Choate ’19, Bowdoin has replaced their talent with a number of new faces. For instance, although it is the first season as a Polar Bear for Megan Tan ’23, she is averaging 17 minutes a game and shooting over 50 percent from the field. She says the opportunities Shibles has given her have helped her improve.
“Our coach has such high expectations for us, which is really awesome, and I think the high expectations have made us become an even better team,” said Tan.
Ryan Telingator ’21, a self-professed “super-fan”, believes that this is the year the team can finally go all the way and claim an elusive championship trophy.
“This year, we lost some big names, but some people are stepping up,” said Telingator. “As always, we have an elite team with elite talent, deep across the bench, and I’m always of the idea they are going to win the national championship.”
Captain Samantha Roy ’20 sees the multiple historic runs her team has undertaken less as a temporary achievement and more as fitting into the larger legacy of women’s basketball at Bowdoin.
“It’s bigger than yourself,” said Roy. “It’s bigger than this specific year of basketball. It’s all part of a program, and really a family.”
In the midst of their dominant season, Shibles is focused on the future, and she thinks her players are, too.
“[The players] have great attention to detail and I think they’re really embracing that. If they can keep improving and taking advantage of every opportunity to practice and improve, then we will continue to rise,” said Shibles.
The Polar Bears take on Colby in Waterville this Saturday at 3 p.m.