The men's basketball team triumphed against Williams on Sunday in an 89-84 overtime victory, beating the Ephs for the first time since 2009.
While the Ephs built an 83-79 lead early in extra time, senior captains Ryan O'Connell and Will Hanley delivered layups, and Hanley followed with a jump shot. O'Connell and Hanley iced the win after they both made their free throws.
O'Connell led Bowdoin with 21 points. The win was extra sweet for him, as he became the 22nd player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points.
O'Connell noted the importance of the all-around team effort against Williams, which had been tied with Bowdoin in the NESCAC standings.
"It was our biggest team win of the season," he said. "Everyone stepped up and contributed. Tom Carter, Wyatt Littles and Justin Nowell were a huge part of the win—they provide us with so much experience off the bench."
However, the weekend was still a bittersweet one for the team, as it narrowly lost to Middlebury on Friday.
The Polar Bears traveled to Vermont to face the nation's top-ranked squad in a game that came down to the final minutes, as Bowdoin rallied in the second half to erase a 10-point deficit.
With 1:26 to play, the Polar Bears were only down 68-69 courtesy of a 3-pointer by O'Connell. However, the Panthers pulled away, making eight of 10 free throws and giving them a 79-76 victory.
"I thought we played well, and pretty smart the whole way," said Head Coach Tim Gilbride. "They are obviously a good team and it really came down to a few key baskets in the final seconds on their part."
O'Connell had 23 points to lead Bowdoin. He was 9-12 from the floor, and was 5-5 in 3-pointers, which included two crucial deep range shots in the final minute.
"Our win at Williams on their senior night was my favorite win in my career here at Bowdoin," said O'Connell. "We came close to beating Middlebury the previous night, so it meant a lot that we kept battling the next day against Williams and got our signature win."
"I was very proud of how well the team came back on the road and came through in another close game," said Gilbride. "It was a great weekend for Ryan and a great team win."
Following the weekend's games, on Tuesday the Polar Bears hosted non-conference opponent Bridgewater State and dominated, 77-52. While Hanley led the team with 15 points, Bowdoin's bench players continued to shine. First year Keegan Pieri scored 12 points, while Littles contributed with 11. Nowell also added to the effort with nine points and a team-leading 10 assists.
Coming off two wins, the final weekend of the season will be critical for Bowdoin (16-6, 4-4 NESCAC). Tonight, No. 6 Bowdoin will host No. 4 Wesleyan at 8 p.m., and tomorrow will play No. 11 Connecticut College at 4 p.m.
While it is certain that Amherst and Middlebury, who are both 8-0 in conference play, will lock up the top two seeds in the upcoming NESCAC tournament, the other spots depend on this weekend's results.
With a win against Bowdoin on Friday and another against Colby on Saturday, Wesleyan would lock up the third or fourth seed in the conference tournament. Meanwhile, depending on other outcomes, two wins for Bowdoin this weekend could propel the Polar Bears to a fourth-place regular season finish. If so, the Polar Bears would host a first round NESCAC game next weekend, while a finish in fifth or lower would send Bowdoin on the road.
Gilbride also looks forward to facing one of his former players, Tim Lane '09—who is currently Wesleyan's assistant coach—in Friday's game. Lane played all four years at Bowdoin, averaging 9.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his senior season. Lane was also the team's representative to the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship team in 2008.