Bowdoin Headed to National Championship Game
Story posted March 19, 2004
The top-ranked Polar Bears (30-0) will play Wilmington College (26-6) in the National Championship Game, which will be broadcast live on Fox Sports New England, as well as live via webcast at D3Hoops.com. Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the number two team in the nation, drops to 28-4 on the year and will play Rochester in the Consolation game at 11:00 on Saturday.
The first half proved to be battle of equally-matched squads as the Pointers and Polar Bears struggled to take control of the contest. Bowdoin's defense proved to be effective early, as the Polar Bears forced eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of the contest, featuring a full-court press. When Vanessa Russell buried back-to-back three-pointers and Justine Pouravelis hit a spinning layup, the Polar Bears claimed their first lead of the game at 10-8. Stevens Point battled back as a trifecta from Andrea Kraemer keyed a 9-2 spurt for the Pointers to give them a 17-12 edge. Bowdoin answered with a 9-0 run as Pouravelis hit a lay-in, Trenkle banked one home and Russell connected on a drive to the hoop. When Kristina Fugate buried a three-pointer from the wing, Bowdoin led 21-17.
Stevens Point would not fade, however, as the Pointers raced on a 13-2 spurt as Kraemer and Cassandra Schultz hit back-to-back three's to give Wisconsin a 30-23 lead. Bowdoin closed the half on another run of their own, as Trenkle nailed a jumper in the lane and then drove the baseline to make it a three-point deficit. A layup from Alison Smith and a pair of free-throws from Pouravelis made it 32-31 in favor of Stevens Point at intermission. The Pointers out-rebounded Bowdoin 23-17, but the Polar Bears forced 14 turnovers in the opening frame.
Bowdoin took the lead early in the second half as Justine Pouravelis buried a layup to give the Polar Bears a 33-32 edge. The lead would change four times in the first five minutes of the second half as the game turned into a battle of heavyweights. Down 40-37, an 11-2 Polar Bear run gave Bowdoin some breathing room with nine minutes remaining. The run started on a bucket-and-free throw by Alison Smith, followed by a pair of free-throws from Lora Trenkle. The senior captain took over with back-to-back hoops driving to the basket. Erika Nickerson closed the run with a layup, forcing a Stevens Point timeout.
But Amanda Nechuta singlehandedly kept the Pointers in the contest, hitting consecutive baskets to bring the Bowdoin lead down to two points. A put-back hoop from Nickerson and a running jumper by Trenkle kept Stevens Point at bay, giving the Polar Bears a 52-48 edge with just 5:19 left. Stevens Point would not bow, however, and rolled off a 9-4 spurt to take a one-point edge on a free throw by Tara Schmitt with 2:18 left.
Trenkle brought the ball down the court, drove the lane, dribbled out of the key and back to the point. After crossing-over, she took to the left side of the basket and hit a running layup to regain the lead for Bowdoin with 1:54 left, 58-57. Cassandra Schultz missed a jumper for Stevens Point on the next posssession as Russell grabbed the key rebound.
With one minute on the clock, Alison Smith found Pouravelis in the post for a turnaround jumper, giving Bowdoin a 60-57 lead. Nechuta answered again for the Pointers, hitting a jump shot to close the lead to one point, 60-59 with 16 ticks remaining. But as in the Southern Maine Sweet Sixteen contest last weekend, Pouravelis inbounded the ball to a wide-open Lora Trenkle downcourt for the clinching layup. The Pointers missed a potential game-tying three-pointer and Trenkle hit three more free throws down the stretch to make it a five-point margin of victory.
Trenkle was outstanding, scoring 23 points with six boards and three assists. Pouravelis added 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Russell had 11 points and three steals. For Stevens Point, Nechuta scored 25 points and eight rebounds. Schultz had 13 points, while Andrea Kraemer tallied 10 points.
Bowdoin out-rebounded the Pointers by 10 (44-34), while holding Stevens Point to just 34% shooting for the game. Bowdoin connected on 44% from the field, including 4-7 from three-point range.
This is the first-ever National Championship Game appearance for Bowdoin College in any sport. The Polar Bears have never won a NCAA Championship.
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