Last Friday, the men’s basketball team (9–11; 1–5 NESCAC) earned its first NESCAC win of the season against Connecticut College (12–8; 3–3 NESCAC). The Polar Bears are hoping to use the win as a motivation for their game tonight against Bates College (7–13; 1–5 NESCAC).
Bowdoin had worked on its zone offense during the week leading up to the game, which prepared them to take on Conn’s typical 2–3 defensive zone strategy.
“We had a good team game plan that we scouted for. Everyone contributed coming off the bench,” Xander Werkman ’23 said.
Despite Conn taking an early 9–2 lead, Bowdoin chipped away and tied the game near the end of the first half with a three-pointer from guard Alex Halpern ’26. The Camels picked up momentum in the second half before guard Michael Simonds ’24 started a 7–2 run for the Polar Bears. Werkman added a three-pointer with under a minute left in the game to secure the 54–52 victory.
“Early in the game, shots weren’t falling. Just knowing that taking the same shots and [that] they’ll fall eventually and then also trusting my teammates [helped me],” Werkman said.
Werkman described the typical NESCAC basketball game as a game of runs. When one team scores on consecutive offensive possessions while getting stops on defense, that is known as “going on a run.” In a game of runs, the lead can switch between teams many times. Werkman explained that in such a game, remaining calm and focused is the key to victory.
“[It’s important to keep] a steady mindset. That’s the thing that we’ve been focusing on because, usually in the second half of a few of our games, we’ve been up, and then [the other team] has a run, and then we haven’t responded. It was great to see that we kind of kept a steady mindset and responded to that,” Werkman said.
Simonds said the win helped increase the team’s confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.
“It was really big for us. I think it would have been really deflating if we had let that one go with only four games left. Getting a win gives us some confidence, so we’ll hopefully go out and win a couple more and get into the next NESCAC tournament,” Simonds said.
The team’s biggest challenge is currently the loss of lead-scorer James McGowan ’25, who is injured. McGowan last played on January 24 against Thomas College.
“[He] was a lot of the heart of our team. I think dealing with that is gonna be really big,” Simonds said.
Looking ahead, Bowdoin wants to focus on playing a more complete game.
“A challenge for our team is just staying mentally focused. Usually, we know what the other team is going to do, but sometimes we don’t execute on that,” Werkman said. “[We’re focusing on] zeroing in on game time and playing a 40 minute game, instead of just playing one half and then the other. Putting the two halves together is a big focus for us.”
The team is preparing to adjust to Bates’ physicality.
“[Bates plays] really hard. We have to be ready for a lot of physicality and a lot of aggression and be poised so that when they come out and bring a lot of pressure, we can basically take a step back and pick it apart,” Simonds said.
The Polar Bears will take on the Bobcats tonight in Lewiston before facing off against Tufts University (14–5; 3–3 NESCAC) tomorrow in Medford, Mass.