Date Posted:01/27/2004, 3:00PM
BRUNSWICK, Maine - The only unbeaten team left in Division III women's basketball is ranked number one in the country. The Bowdoin College women's basketball team (16-0 entering play on Tuesday evening) has reached the number one spot in both national polls, ranking first in the D3Hoops.com National poll and the WBCA/ESPN National Poll released on Monday.
It is the first time in the program's history that the school has been ranked number one in the country and it is the first Polar Bear team to reach a national number-one ranking since the 1985-86 men's ice hockey team ended the season ranked first.
"The first thing that I think of when I see the ranking is how good it is for the College," says head coach Stefanie Pemper. "In a national sense, I think this will bring some attention to Bowdoin College and that is very exciting. This is also great for the NESCAC and Maine basketball."
Bowdoin, at 16-0, is the nation's lone unbeaten squad and holds the Division III women's longest regular-season win streak at 18 games. The Polar Bears also hold the nation's longest home winning streak, now at 36 games, dating back to February of 2001. In-state rival Southern Maine is ranked second in the country.
Bowdoin defeated Southern Maine in Gorham earlier this season, 59-52, and has won five straight against the Huskies. The Polar Bears defeated then-22nd-ranked Wesleyan last Saturday, 55-43. Bowdoin will travel to play at NESCAC foes Williams and Middlebury next weekend.
"I think the fact that we've been in some close games and beaten some good teams has allowed us to stay focused and I'm proud of that," says Pemper. "But it is important not to get overconfident because we're coming into a tough stretch of games and any of the top 25 teams could end up being number one at the end of the season."
The Polar Bears have won 26 games in each of the last two seasons and have qualified for the NCAA Tournament for three straight years. Bowdoin made the Sweet Sixteen in 2000-01 and has made the Elite Eight of Nationals in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Since establishing a post-season tournament in 2000-01, Bowdoin is the only team to have won the New England Small College Athletic Conference Tournament.