2018-03-08 / Sports

Polar Bears ‘Sweet 16’ bound

Bowdoin women’s basketball two wins from Final Four
Times Record Staff

BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Kate Kerrigan (5) looks for someone to pass to against FDU-Florham on Saturday inside Morrell Gymnasium in Brunswick. Kerrigan, a senior captain, leads the Polar Bears against Scranton in the Sweet 16 on Friday at 7 p.m. 
BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Kate Kerrigan (5) looks for someone to pass to against FDU-Florham on Saturday inside Morrell Gymnasium in Brunswick. Kerrigan, a senior captain, leads the Polar Bears against Scranton in the Sweet 16 on Friday at 7 p.m. BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD BRUNSWICK

The road to the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four has led Bowdoin to Scranton, Pennsylvania, for Friday night’s “Sweet 16.”

It has been a magical year for the Polar Bears, who enter Friday’s matchup with host University of Scranton with a 26-2 record after two home regional wins this past weekend.

“We have a lot of respect for Scranton and it will be fun playing at their home site,” said Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles, in her 10th season of leading the Polar Bears.

In last Friday’s opening round, Bowdoin rolled to a 94-32 win over Husson, followed on Saturday with a 79- 57 win over a talented FDU-Florham squad inside Morrell Gymnasium.

The four teams in the Scranton regional this weekend have a combined record of 101-9, making the two games (Messiah vs. Tufts, 5 p.m.; Bowdoin vs. Scranton, 7 p.m.) a coin flip.

“Everyone at this point of the season is really good,” said Shibles, who feels her team’s NESCAC schedule prepares her team well for the NCAA Tournament. “The NESCAC is the best conference in the nation, where you are playing tough teams every night. We beat each other throughout the season.”

Three teams from the NESCAC are among the final 16 teams — Bowdoin, Amherst and Tufts.

Here is a look at the four teams competing in Scranton:

Bowdoin Polar Bears

Bowdoin has been solid all season, outscoring opponents by an average of 81.6-47.1 throughout its 28 games.

Ranked fifth in the nation, the Polar Bears have relied on a solid effort from all 14 of their players.

The team is undoubtedly led by senior captain Kate Kerrigan, who averages 10.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.6 steals a contest. Kerrigan had a solid opening two rounds, including an 18-point effort against FDU-Florham.

Junior Abby Kelly leads Bowdoin with 11.7 points a game, while junior guard Taylor Choate (8.9 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals) and senior Lauren Petit (8.3 points) have been solid.

Bowdoin hasn’t faced Scranton or Messiah this season, but split a pair of games with Tufts, winning in Brunswick back on Jan. 6, 66-53, and falling to the Jumbos in the NESCAC semifinals on Feb. 24, 60-48.

Coming into Friday’s game with the Lady Royals, Shibles feels her team will need to start well and defend.

“A strong start is critical, and we know they will throw stuff at us early, but we are a group that has that will to fight through difficulty, and we are mentally prepared to face a tough Scranton team,” Shibles said. “I also feel that we need to defend well.”

Scranton Lady Royals

Scranton’s only loss came Dec. 2 against Juniata, a 62- 54 setback.

Since then, the Lady Royals, ranked 10th by D3hoops.com, have reeled off 23 consecutive wins, including a 59-58 overtime win over Juniata in the Landmark

Conference title game on Feb. 24.

Scranton (28-1) hosted the opening two rounds, downing Keuka, 68-48, and Cabrini, 55-46.

Guards Bridgette Mann and Makenzie Mason run the ship for Scranton. Mann, a junior, leads the Lady Royals with 15.4 points and 3.1 assists, while Mason, a sophomore, averages 10 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

“Their guards are very good,” said Shibles.

Senior Katie Feehery is also solid, putting up 8.9 points a game along with 6.8 rebounds.

Scranton averages 66.9 points a game while allowing just 51.3.

Tufts Jumbos

Tufts enters the “Sweet 16” with a 25-4 mark, with its lone losses coming against Amherst (two times), Bowdoin and Albright.

The Jumbos are ranked eighth in the country and defeated Westfield State, 71- 54, and Ithaca, 61-39, at home in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Tufts averages 66.2 points a game and allows 45.6. The Jumbos didn’t face Messiah during the season.

Senior Melissa Baptista leads Tufts with 13.2 points a game along with 6.7 rebounds. Sophomore Erica DeCandido (12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds) is a presence inside, while guards Jac Knapp (junior, 10.4 points, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals) and Lauren Dillon (senior, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals) set the table.

Messiah Falcons

Messiah, ranked 15th in the nation, travels to Scranton from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with a 27-2 record, including tournaments wins last weekend against Oberlin (64-54) and Emory & Henry (62- 49).

The Falcons are a balanced team, with four players averaging in double figures. Messiah averages 70.5 points a contest while allowing 50.3.

Sophomore Leah Springer is a tough inside presence, with 14.6 points a contest along with 8.6 rebounds. Fellow forward Alecia Rohrer, a junior, averages a double double (12.9 points, 10.4 rebounds), while guards Maci Thornton (junior, 11.8 points, 2.2 assists, 2.3 steals) and Kaitlyn Hoff (senior, 11.7 points, 3.8 assists) handle the ball.

Messiah faced Scranton on Dec. 16, falling 65-60.

The Falcons are riding a 13- game winning streak, including a hard-fought 62-54 win over Albright in the MAC Commonwealth championship game.


The other NESCAC school alive in the tournament, Amherst, hosts the “Sweet 16” Friday.

The Mammoths (29-0) own the second-longest winning streak all-time in Division III. Winners of 62 straight, the defending national champions host Montclair State (25-3) at 7 p.m.

The other game in the bracket pits RIT (23-6) against Rochester (23-4).

At Holland, Michigan, Hope (28-1) hosts Christopher Newport (25-4), while Thomas More (28-1) takes on Gustavus Adolphus (24-6).

And at Waverly, Iowa, East Texas Baptist (24-6) faces St. Thomas (27-2), and host Wartburg (29-0) entertains Trine (25-3).

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