On Thursday, the NCAA announced that it would cancel all remaining championship events for the winter and spring athletic seasons due to the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This decision will immediately impact the Bowdoin women’s basketball team, whose playoff run was cut short and whose season ended with the decision.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” wrote the NCAA in a press release on Thursday.
After claiming their record ninth NESCAC championship with a 70-60 win over Tufts on March 1, the Polar Bears cruised to their 15th Sweet Sixteen appearance with victories over Brooklyn College and New York University in the regional bracket.
Bowdoin’s next playoff game against Trine University was scheduled for last Friday, but the tournament’s cancellation brought the Polar Bears’ playoff run to an abrupt halt.
“We heard rumors earlier that day that it could happen,” wrote Head Coach Adrienne Shibles in an email to the Orient. “That being said, when we did get the news there were lots of tears and sadness that our time together had come to an abrupt end and that our dream of winning a national championship was no longer possible.”
The news brings to an end what had been an extraordinary season for Bowdoin. Undefeated through the first 19 games of the season, the Polar Bears suffered setbacks with midseason losses to conference rivals Tufts and Amherst. However, Bowdoin regrouped after those hiccups and generated momentum throughout the rest of the season, defeating Tufts to take the NESCAC crown and sweeping the first two games of the NCAA tournament.
“Everyone is broken hearted for our students, but we also all understand that this is what is necessary to contain the virus and protect our community,” said Shibles.
The news is especially painful for the team’s three seniors, who will be unable to finish their final season of college basketball. Seniors Olivia Ware, Sam Roy and Maddie Hasson will graduate with a legacy of excellence, having brought Bowdoin to two NCAA championship games and two NESCAC championships in their four years with the program. Fittingly, this year’s NESCAC championship is the team’s first since 2009 and a crowning achievement for the class of 2020.
Beyond the success of the team during their collegiate careers, the seniors have also garnered their share of individual achievements. Hasson has been a First-Team All-NESCAC selection for the past two seasons, and Roy was named to the team this year. Hasson will graduate seventh on Bowdoin’s all-time scoring list with 1,286 points, and Roy is third on the assists list with 387. Finally, Hasson was named a Jostens Trophy finalist last week, one of ten women across the nation selected for the prestigious honor awarded to the player who excels on the court, in the classroom and in the community. The Class of 2020 will forever leave a mark on Bowdoin women’s basketball.
“The events of this past week in no way diminish the legacy of our seniors,” said Shibles. “They led a young squad … to greatness this season. They kept our group together when we faced adversity, and their most exceptional moments came in response to those challenges. They believed in us, and led with confidence when others doubted. They have impacted the hearts of so many in our community, including the little girls that look up to them and the fans who have been inspired by their poise and fearlessness.”