Date Posted:03/31/2005, 1:00PM
BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's basketball team has claimed numerous postseason honors, highlighting the play of junior Justine Pouravelis (Old Orchard Beach, Maine) and sophomore Eileen Flaherty (Fairfield, Conn.). The Polar Bears finished the season with a mark of 27-3, winning their fifth straight NESCAC Championship. Bowdoin is the only team in Division III basketball to have reached five straight "Sweet Sixteen" and four consecutive "Elite Eight" appearances.
Flaherty leads the way for Bowdoin, earning First-Team All-ECAC, First-Team All-Maine and WBCA Honorable Mention All-American honors for her performance this season. Flaherty led the Polar Bears in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game this season. A two-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection and 2004 NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year, she was twice recognized as the NESCAC's Player of the Week this season, and scored her career high of 32 in a victory at Colby in January.
"At times Eileen literally carried us on her back this year," according to head coach Stefanie Pemper. "Not many players go from being co-Rookie of the Year in NESCAC, to one of the top 5 players in New England as a sophomore. Eileen plays with the fearlessness of a great player, and the focus and competitiveness of a great teammate. She's just a very special young woman; by the end of her career I'll certainly run out of words to describe how wonderful she is."
One of the top all-around players in the nation, Justine Pouravelis earned First-Team All-Maine, Second-Team All-ECAC and D3Hoops.com Honorable Mention All-American in her junior campaign. Twice the NESCAC's Defensive Player of the Year, Pouravelis was first on the team in rebounding (7.1), second in scoring (8.8) and led the team in blocks (45), steals (73) and field-goal percentage (.512).
"Justine is that unique player that basketball fans would pay good money to see," said Pemper. "Her numbers may not blow you away but the way she impacts games on both ends of the floor is monstrous. My father would no doubt compare her to Bill Russell, which to him would be the ultimate compliment. Justine has more talent and emotional intelligence in her pinkie than many of us have in our entire body at that age. The confidence and morale she can give our team is just fun to witness."
The Polar Bears saw their season come to a close in a 49-43 loss at Scranton in the Elite Eight. Bowdoin spent much of the season ranked first in the country and ended the year at number five in the D3Hoops.com National Poll.
"It was a great year," said Pemper. "The way this group of women came together and forged their own identity after 2004 was beautiful. Five consecutive NESCAC championships and four consecutive trips to the 'Elite 8' is incredible. Our seniors never lost a home game in four years. We have no business doing the things we do but these women inspire each other and are determined to give their best to each other. We became such a good basketball team and the loss at Scranton did nothing to discount that. Ten years from now these women will remember the poise and courage they played with that night, and they'll remember that the pain of losing was largely a reflection of how much they loved this team."
Bowdoin loses two players off of this year's team- senior co-captains Erika Nickerson and Alison Smith. Smith and Nickerson can lay claim to having the best record of any senior class in Division III women's basketball, going 108-9. In addition, the two players close out their time at Bowdoin without ever losing a home game.
"Alison Smith's leadership, in particular, was special and will be missed." according to Pemper. "She was committed equally to our team being successful and to the experience being fun for everyone. She connected with her teammates and coaches so genuinely and was truly respected as a leader from the minute she joined the team as a first-year, which is rare. She was simply a rock in our starting lineup for four years."