Campus News

Women's Basketball Team Claims 4th Straight NESCAC Championship

Story posted March 01, 2004

In a game that was the tale of two halves, the Bowdoin College women's basketball team rallied from a four-point deficit in overtime to claim their fourth straight NESCAC Championship on Sunday. The top-ranked Polar Bears (26-0) will return to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row while Bates (19-8) will hope for an at-large berth when pairings are announced on Sunday night.

Bowdoin's recipe for success in the 2003-04 season has been stifling defense and balanced scoring, and for the first 20 minutes on Sunday, it appeared the mix had claimed another victim. The Polar Bears held the Bobcats scoreless for the final 9:15 of the half, and got points from six different players to lead by 19 at intermission.

Vanessa Russell opened the contest with a three-pointer to give Bowdoin an early lead. After an Olivia Zurek bucket cut the Polar Bear lead to 5-4, the Polar Bears began to pull away. a pair of freebies from Eileen Flaherty were followed by jumpers from Erika Nickerson and Justine Pouravelis to make it 11-4 Bowdoin with 12:30 remaining in the frame. Bates replied with a 7-4 spurt to close the lead to 15-11 at 9:15, but after Annie Whiting hit a shot from the wing at 9:16, the Bobcats did not score again as the Polar Bears ended the half on a 15-0 run. Pouravelis keyed the run with two layups before Russell drove the bucket for a hoop. The Polar Bears hit 7-of-8 free-throws down the stretch to lead 30-11 at intermission, holding Bates to a mere 17% shooting for the half.

The Bobcats came out on fire in the second half, connecting on their first three shots to trim the lead. Meg Coffin hit a jump shot before Zurek buried a jumper. A three-pointer from Lauren Dubois cut the Polar Bear lead to 32-18 just two minutes into the half. Bates would slowly chip away at the lead as Bowdoin went ice cold from the field, while an 8-0 Bobcat run closed the advantage to three points with 8:12 on the clock. Maggie Fitzgerald started the run with a layup and after a steal by Betsy Hocadel, Zurek hit another shot from the lane. After a Meg Coffin miss, Betsy Hochadel put home the rebound and Zurek capped the run with another layup to make it 38-35 Bowdoin.

The lead would move between 3-4 points for the next six minutes, leading up to another inside bucket from Zurek to cut it to one point at 1:32. Flaherty answered for Bowdoin, by burying a 15-foot jumper from the wing to push it back to three points. But after a good free-throw from Meg Coffin cut the lead to two points, Flaherty was called for an offensive foul and Hochadel answered the call for the Bobcats, hitting a shot from in the lane to tie the contest for the first time at 43 apiece. Lora Trenkle missed a running jumper as time expired to send the game into overtime.

Bates took their first lead of the contest just 28 seconds into overtime, as Coffin hit a layup. Hochadel hit two freebies to extend the Bates lead to 47-43 with 3:45 left in the extra session. But those would be the last points from Bates, as Bowdoin closed the overtime on an 8-0 run to take the title. Trenkle hit two key free-throws to cut the lead to two before one freebie from Erika Nickerson made it a one-point game. After a Bobcat turnover, with the shot clock running low, Nickerson received the ball on the wing from Trenkle and hit a baseline jumper to regain the lead for the Polar Bears. Trenkle would hit three more free-throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Bowdoin extends the nation's longest home winning streak to 41 games and has won 11 consecutive NESCAC postseason games. The Polar Bears enter the NCAA Tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation, having won 26 straight games.

Trenkle finished the game with 11 points, nine boards and five assists, while Flaherty chipped in 10 points. Pouravelis posted seven points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals while Alison Smith led all players with three blocks. Bates was led by Zurek's 17 points and 13 boards to go with five steals. Hochadel had nine points and five boards.


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