The Bowdoin-Colby rivalry was at its peak last Saturday when approximately 750 fans packed Morrell Gymnasium as the men's basketball team brushed the Mules aside with a score of 67-40.
The win was Bowdoin's biggest against Colby since 2001, and the second over the Mules this season. The victory catapulted the Polar Bears (14-5, 3-3 NESCAC) to a sixth place tie in the NESCAC standings with Williams (15-5, 3-3 NESCAC). Colby, meanwhile, fell to No. 9 (6-13, 1-5 NESCAC).
In the first half, the lead shifted between both teams, as the Mules put double team pressure on captain Will Hanley '12, the NESCAC's leading scorer and rebounder. With 7:30 left in the half, Bowdoin had a slight 17-16 edge, but a 3-pointer from captain Ryan O'Connell '12 sparked the Bowdoin offense to finish the first half with a 28-20 lead.
Bowdoin's offense never looked back, as Andrew Madlinger '14 opened the second half with a 3-pointer.
"Andrew's three in the beginning of the half was really important," said Head Coach Tim Gilbride. "From there on, a lot of guys started to find easy baskets."
Bowdoin outscored Colby 39-20 in the second half.
Madlinger made four out of six 3-pointers, and led the team with 18 points. Centers Max Staiger '13 and John Swords '15 each contributed 10 points, benefitting from the extra pressure on Hanley.
"Colby was determined to keep Will in the double team, so it meant that Max and John could capitalize with their size and get to the basket," Gilbride added.
Gilbride was also impressed with his team's defense throughout the game.
"I thought we started with excellent defense in the first half, and kept it up throughout the game," he said. "In the second half, we played much better offensively because we were able to find the open guy and take advantage of it."
On Tuesday night, Bowdoin continued its dominant non-conference play with a 94-83 win at Thomas College in Waterville.
"Thomas has a very athletic team and have a couple of players that are as good as anybody we've played all year," Gilbride said. "They put pretty good pressure on us the entire game, but we were able to break through some of their presses and find the basket, especially in the second half."
Following a 3-pointer by O'Connell to start the game, the Polar Bears went on a 13-3 run and never looked back. Facing only single pressure, Hanley was able to lead the squad with 22 points and 20 rebounds. Other contributors included Madlinger (15 points) as well as O'Connell and Bryan Hurley '15 (14 points each).
Wyatt Littles '12 continued to be dominant off the bench, scoring 12 points in 14 minutes of play. Littles has averaged 6.4 points off the bench this season, including a team-leading 17 against the University of Maine-Farmington on January 18.
Overall, Gilbride has been impressed with the contributions many of the players are making.
"Off the bench, first years John Swords and Keegan Pieri have been great in addition to Justin [Nowell '12] and Wyatt," he said.
Gilbride also said he was pleased with two of his younger starters, sophomore guard Madlinger and first year point guard Hurley.
"Andrew [Madlinger] has really stepped up this year, while Bryan [Hurley] has done a great job playing a very tough point guard position, especially as a first year," Gilbride said.
This weekend will be very important for the Polar Bears. Tonight, the squad will travel to Middlebury to face a Panther team that is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Then tomorrow, the Polar Bears will face Williams, who is currently tied with Bowdoin for No. 6 in the NESCAC and is ranked No. 16 in the nation.
Addressing their upcoming competition, Gilbride said, "We will certainly try to take away their offensive weapons, but at the same time, they are both well balanced teams who have guys who can score from inside and others who are good shooters."
He added, "I think we have been progressing nicely as a team and this weekend will be a good test to see where we stand."