NESCAC time for Polar Bears
The Polar Bears were a solid 12-1 inside Morrell Gymnasium this year ( the only setback a hard-fought 63-59 loss to D3hoops.com topranked Amherst, 24- 0) and will have those friendly confines to lean on when the No. 6 Cardinals pay a visit for the second time in eight days at 3 p.m.
Bowdoin received 16 points from Bath’s Jill Henrikson and superior bench play as the Polar Bears outscored the Cardinals 32-9, with 12 points from Allie Piscina and nine each from Sara Binkhorst and Anna Prohl.
Wesleyan is the No. 6 seed and sports a 13- 8 overall mark, 5-5 in the NESCAC.
“The playoffs are totally different than the regular season, so I’m sure they will make some adjustments and we will have to make some,” said Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles. “This game is essential if we want to go to NCAAs. We are taking it one game at a time.”
Bowdoin seniors Amy Hackett, Henrikson, Nicole Coombes, Ellery Gould and Alexa Barry have seen a ton of success in their college careers. In their four seasons, Bowdoin has compiled a mark of 88-24, including two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances.
This season has been no different, with Bowdoin sporting a solid 18-6 mark, including 7- 3 in the NESCAC to earn the No. 3 seed. The Polar Bears have been hot as of late with victories in seven of their eight contests.
“They’re an amazing group of players and citizens,” said Shibles of her seniors. “We all want to continue this run for them and is our motivation as we move forward.”
On the other side, Bowdoin has suffered through a few lapses this season, including three blowout losses on the road where the Polar Bears struggled in all aspects of the game.
“We talk about having good balance, needing to get into the paint to have success,” said Shibles. “I like our confidence right now. We have shot better from outside as of late while continuing to work hard inside. That is the key for us.”
Henrikson leads Bowdoin, averaging 17 points a game with 6.7 rebounds. She has been lethal at the free-throw line, hitting on 88.7-percent of her chances.
Kaitlin Donahoe averages 9.6 points a contest, with Hackett chipping in eight points. The Polar Bears have outscored their opponents 67.0-55.7 a game.
Wesleyan is led in scoring by Eileen Gaffney (11.6 points a contest). In the teams first meeting, Kellyann Rooney led the Cardinals with 17 points. Wesleyan has outscored its opponents 58.1-55.0.
In other women’s quarterfinal play, No. 1 Amherst hosts eighth-seeded Trinity (10-12, 3- 7); No. 2 Tufts ( 19- 5, 8- 2) entertains No. 7 Connecticut College (16-6, 5-5); and fifthseeded Williams (19-5, 6-4) visits No. 4 Colby (18-6, 7-3).
Men on the road
Bowdoin, 17- 7 ( 5- 5 NESCAC), earned the No. 6 seed and will travel to Middletown, Conn., to face the thirdseeded Cardinals, with tip-off set for 3 p.m.
In the first meeting on Feb. 10, Wesleyan received 25 points from Mike Callaghan and 20 from Derick Beresford in a 74-61 victory at Morrell Gymnasium.
“They’re a good team, with a very quick point guard and strength on the inside,” said Bowdoin coach Tim Gilbride, whose team trailed by 10 early against the Cardinals and had to play catch up. “We can’t get behind like that again. They are very quick in the guard play, and when you’re behind they spread the floor and make you chase. Also, we have to limit their second shots. They had 14 offensive boards in the first meeting.”
Will Hanley leads Bowdoin with 18.3 points a game and 11.4 rebounds, the second consecutive year the senior has averaged a double- double. Ryan O’Connell comes in at 13.9 points a contest, while Andrew Madlinger chips in 10. The Polar Bears averaged 76.2 points/game on offense while allowing 64.7.
“Our team has played well down the stretch, and I’m pleased with our balance,” said Gilbride. “Will has been solid, doing a lot of the little things well while getting his points and rebounds. Plus, Ryan, Andrew and freshman Bryan Hurley have given us good variety, along with our center play of John Swords and Max (Staiger).
“Off the bench, Wyatt Littles has hit some big shots, so we will again rely on a lot of guys to carry us.”
The Cardinals are the hottest team in the NESCAC, winners of five straight, including a 68- 67 upset of then No. 1 Amherst in nonleague play on Jan. 25.
Sasha Brown is Wesleyan’s top scorer with 17.1 average, followed by Callaghan (12.3) and Beresford (11.9). The Cardinals outscored opponents on average 70.2-62.2.
Amherst (22-2, 10-0) is the NESCAC’s top seed and slated to host No. 8 Hamilton (15-9, 4- 6). Elsewhere, No. 2 Middlebury (22-2, 9-1) entertains seventh seeded Williams (17-7, 5- 5), while Tufts (16-8, 6-4), the No. 4 seed, plays host to Bates College (12-12, 5-5).
“There is a lot of parity this year in this conference, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a team like Williams pulled an upset,” said Gilbride. “Everyone is good, so you have to bring your best game every time out or you will lose.”