The Men's Basketball Team is on a streak again. After losing eight of their previous eleven games and facing shutout from the NESCAC tournament, the Polar Bears finally responded, winning five of their last six games.
This late season push includes wins over conference opponents Wesleyan, Connecticut College, and Middlebury, and was enough to lift Bowdoin into eighth place in the conference. Bowdoin finished with a 13-11 (3-6 NESCAC) record in the regular season. Bowdoin will face top-seeded Amherst in the conference tournament this weekend.
The games that started this positive streak were home games against conference foes Wesleyan and Connecticut College. During the tough stretch, captain Mark Yakavonis '05 remarked on the importance of these games to Bowdoin's postseason hopes. "These games are must-wins if we want to reach the conference tournament," he said.
Bowdoin met the captain's challenge, blowing out each team. Bowdoin topped a very respectable Wesleyan team, 64-48, and defeated Connecticut College, 75-56.
Kevin Bradley '07 starred in the win over Wesleyan. Bradley shot 5-8 from the floor and scored a game-high 13 points.
Also strong for the Bears was Kyle Petrie '07, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000 career point for Bowdoin against Trinity. Petrie chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
Against the Camels, Petrie posted a Bowdoin-high 14 points, as Bowdoin cruised to victory. Also strong for Bowdoin on this night were Yakavonis with 10 points and nine boards, and Andrew Hippert '08, who contributed 13 points.
To clinch a playoff spot, though, Bowdoin needed a victory at Middlebury or at Williams last weekend. Middlebury, 1-7 in the NESCAC at the time, would leap over a 2-6 Bowdoin team by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker with a home win against the Bears.
Although the team led by six points at halftime, the Panthers came out hot in the second half and held a five-point lead with five minutes remaining in the contest. Bowdoin rallied, though, and a last second jumper from Bradley gave Bowdoin the edge in the win over the Panthers.
Although Bradley hit the shot to win the game, Petrie and Andrew Sargeantson '08 put Bowdoin in position for the win. Petrie torched the Middlebury defense, posting 28 points on 11-18 shooting from the field, along with six rebounds. Sargeantson shot 8-11 from the field en route to 21 points.
Williams handed Bowdoin its only loss during this winning stretch, 88-81. The Ephs led by two at half and went on a 10-0 run in the second half to seal the win, despite a season-high 36 points for Petrie and 20 for Sargeantson.
A big win over a 17-5 Husson team allows Bowdoin to enter the playoffs on a high note. Husson traveled to Bowdoin riding a 15-game winning streak, with Bowdoin having just suffered a loss to Williams.
In the final home game of the season, Petrie again played an incredible game. He led Bowdoin with 24 points on 10-19 shooting and pulled down 16 rebounds, six of which were offensive. Hippert was the only other Bowdoin player to post double-digits in the scoring column with 20 points. Bowdoin edged Husson by two points, 75-73.
Prior to the streak, Yakavonis remarked on what the team would need to improve in order for the team to turn the season around. "We simply need to shoot better. We have been playing well defensively, but we have not been able to convert on the offensive end," he said.
Although Bowdoin's scoring has improved during the streak, their defensive efforts have topped their offensive achievements.
They have improved their points-allowed-per-game average by five points during the winning streak.
Bowdoin now prepares for a NESCAC tournament game against Amherst. Although Bowdoin lost to Amherst when the Lord Jeffs traveled here in the regular season, the Bears' performance in the game gives reason for hope in the rematch.
Bowdoin held Amherst to 1-14 3-point shooting in the first half en route to a 36-30 half-time lead. In the second half, Amherst exploded.
Although Bowdoin cut the lead to one point on several occasions, the Bears could not regain the lead down the stretch as Amherst won, 69-60.
Bowdoin hopes to avenge this close loss in the first round of NESCAC tournament at Amherst Saturday at 3:00 p.m.