The men’s basketball team clinched a spot in the NESCAC tournament this weekend, defeating conference foes Wesleyan and Connecticut College.

Although the Polar Bears were slated to play Connecticut College on Saturday, the blizzard Nemo resulted in a change to a Saturday night matchup with Wesleyan. Led by a career-high 23 points from their center captain, Max Staiger ’13, the men disposed of Wesleyan by a final score of 75-68.

“We passed well, shot well, and played one of our most complete games of the season,” said Head Coach Tim Gilbride.

All five Bowdoin starters finished in double-digit scoring, as Andrew Madlinger ’14, Matt Mathias ’14 and Keegan Pieri ’15 nabbed 12 points each. Pieri had a game-high nine rebounds and point guard Bryan Hurley ’15 scored 10 points while dishing out eight assists.

“The offense clicked well because we let the ball do most of the movement,” said Staiger. “We got the ball swinging from side to side, which opened up some opportunities under the basket.”

Bowdoin dominated most of the night and held its largest lead of the game, 17 points, with 6:36 on the clock. At this point, Wesleyan’s electric senior point guard, Shasha Brown, took over the game, scoring 11 points in four minutes to cut the Polar Bear lead to just three. However, a crucial pass from Hurley allowed Staiger to score with 13 seconds left to secure the victory for the visitors.

Weary from travel, the men started slow Sunday afternoon against Connecticut, but Staiger once again delivered for his team. A second half run propelled Bowdoin to a 60-56 triumph.
“We were trying to get things going, but it was difficult,” said Gilbride. “It was one of those games where we had to grind it out and stay in it until the end.”

Staiger scored 18 points while Madlinger added 12 of his own. Hurley had eight points, seven assists and six rebounds.

“We didn’t let their high intensity and scrappy play affect us,” said Staiger. “We stayed patient on offense and moved the ball, looking to get not a good shot but a great shot out of every possession.”

The Polar Bears finished their regular season with a record of .500 in the NESCAC, and enter the conference tournament as the No. 5 seed. They will play No. 4 Tufts in the first round of the NESAC playoffs next weekend in Medford, Mass.