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Women’s basketball wins championship title

March 1, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
CUT THE NETS: Sydney Jones ’25 attempts a contested layup. The women’s basketball team will host the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend in Morrell Gymnasium.

BRUNSWICK—The women’s basketball NESCAC championship trophy is back in Brunswick.

On Sunday, Bowdoin (25–2; 9–1 NESCAC) defeated rival Bates College (22–5; 8–2 NESCAC) 66–56 and won the NESCAC championship for the first time since 2020. The title crowned the team’s season-long dominance in NESCAC play and secured first and second-round home NCAA tournament matches. Bowdoin will face off against Western New England University (22–5) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. If it wins, the team will play the winner of UMass Dartmouth (23–4) and New Jersey City University (19–8) at the same time the following day.

NESCAC Player of the Year Sydney Jones ’24 led the Polar Bears in scoring with 15 points. Jess Giorgio ’23 provided a dominant paint presence with her 13 point, six-rebound performance and guard Carly Davey ’26 added 12 points of her own. Jai DuVal ’24 contributed nine points off the bench while Callie Godfrey ’24 grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three Bobcat shot attempts.

As the clock wound down for the final seconds and Morrell Gymnasium erupted, Davey leaped into Jones’s arms and Head Coach Megan Phelps turned to embrace Assistant Coach Abby Kelly.

“These are just thirteen of the best women that I have ever had the privilege to meet,” Phelps said. “A year and a week ago we lost in the quarterfinals as an eight seed. We needed to go to work for this moment…. For them to be rewarded in this way—there is no better feeling. I am so incredibly happy and proud of them.”

Jones’s performance extended her run of scoring more than 15 points to four successive games, a stretch spurred on by a mammoth 32-point game against Amherst College (19–6; 6–5 NESCAC) in the regular season finale. But it was not Jones’s scoring that stood out on Sunday. Instead, her passing (8 assists) and tenacity on the glass (8 rebounds) were front and center.

“Bates is really long and athletic,” Jones said. “They are really good defensively. We had to figure out how to attack that—something that we haven’t seen from a lot of teams. For us, [the solution] was moving the ball, making sure we were getting assists, getting our post touches.”

Davey got the Polar Bears off to a quick 10–4 lead with a pair of baskets and a quick dish to Jones. DuVal’s work on the offensive boards extended Bowdoin possessions early amidst a slower, more physical championship game.

After facing an 11–14 deficit in the early stages of the second quarter, Bowdoin scored eight unanswered points and never looked back. Giorgio started the run with a putback layup and Jones kept it going when she spun her defender and finished off the glass—a move that silenced the Bates student section’s “air-ball” chants.

A DuVal turnaround jumper and a Jones pull-up maintained Bowdoin’s momentum before Davey finished a contested layup to cap the Polar Bear first-half scoring at 23. Davey led the team in first-half scoring with eight points on six shots. Jones scored six while Giorgio and DuVal added four apiece.

In typical Phelps-era fashion, the Polar Bears came out hot in the second half. Guard Megan Tan ’23 scored a layup early before a barrage of buckets from Giorgio and Jones extended Bowdoin’s lead to 31–21. Following a Godfrey assist to Jones, Bates called its first timeout of the half.

While the Bobcats attempted to make adjustments during the break, Giorgio put an end to any hope Bates may have had. On Bowdoin’s first possession, she spun her defender before scoring an and-one layup. She then grabbed an offensive rebound on the following possession and dumped a shovel pass off to Jones to extend Bowdoin’s lead to ten points. But Giorgio was not finished. Two possessions later, she scored a layup of her own—bringing her tally to eight in the quarter. A DuVal three and Godfrey block saw the quarter come to a close with Bowdoin up 42–27.

Bowdoin’s tenacity paid off in the fourth quarter. A volley of offensive rebounds gave the Polar Bears second-chance opportunities that Bates could not equal. Bowdoin kept Bates at arms distance for much of the fourth before the Bobcats resorted to late-game fouling to make up the deficit. When Jones blocked a Bates inbound, any chance of a Bobcat comeback was quelled.

As the team continues its winning streak, Jones remains grateful.

“A thank you to everyone who has been supporting us and been at the games. It’s been really great. We have been feeling really celebrated and we want to continue to make the school proud and make sure everyone’s having a good time,” Jones said.

While the team relished in the NESCAC championship win, NCAAs remain the final goal.

“We want to play at home for as long as we can before we go to Ohio. Every single person on our team is ready to get a ring this year, so let’s do it,” DuVal said.


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