Courtesy Bowdoin Sports Information
BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Muhlenberg College women's basketball team held off a furious last-minute rally by Bowdoin to take a 58-57 win in an NCAA Division III Tournament Second Round game on Saturday evening at Morrell Gymnasium. The loss is the first ever in NCAA or NESCAC Tournament play at home for Bowdoin, who finishes their season with a record of 24-5. Muhlenberg (26-3) advances to play Brandeis in the "Sweet Sixteen" next weekend at a to-be-determined site.
The teams traded blows in the early going before Bowdoin was able to open up some distance on a Katie Bergeron three-pointer with eight minutes gone, to give the hosts an 18-12 edge. Muhlenberg rallied to trim the lead to two points, 18-16, after a lay-in by Lauren Boyle, but Bowdoin responded with a 6-0 spurt capped by an Alexa Kaubris three-pointer to take an eight-point edge, 24-16, with 8:44 left in the first half.
The Polar Bears went ice cold after that, however, and did not connect on another field goal for the remainder of the period. The Mules chipped away at the advantage, closing the half on a 12-2 run, sparked by a trifecta from Kaitlyn O'Malley. Muhlenberg took the lead on a pair of free throws from Kelly McKeon and, incredibly enough, would not surrender it for the remainder of the contest.
After taking a 33-30 lead into intermission, Muhlenberg was able to extend their lead to eight points early in the second period following a hoop-and-harm for McKeon. Bowdoin climbed back thanks to the outside shooting of Jill Henrikson, who capped a personal 5-0 run with a three-pointer that closed the gap to 44-42 with ten minutes remaining.
Muhlenberg answered with a key 14-6 run, highlighted by a pair of long-distance shots from Alexandra Chili, and pushed the lead to a seemingly insurmountable 58-48 score with just 5:26 remaining on a bucket from Sheila Cook. Bowdoin clamped down, however, and would not allow Muhlenberg to score for the rest of the contest.
Meanwhile, the Polar Bears efforted to close the gap, cutting the lead to five points after a Henrikson three and a lay-in by Leah Rubega to make it 58-53 with 4:36 to go. Over the next 2:30, Bowdoin had four chances to make it a one possession game, but failed to do so until Henrikson netted a pair of freebies with 1:24 to play. After miss by Chili, Katie Bergeron drove to the hoop and drew a foul and connected on both free throws to make it 58-57 with 43 seconds remaining.
A Muhlenberg shot clock violation gave Bowdoin the ball with 13 seconds left in regulation. Bergeron drove down the court, found Rubega underneath but the junior was swarmed by Mule defenders and kicked it to the wing for Alexa Kaubris. The senior's last-second attempt sailed long at the buzzer.
Muhlenberg advances to the "Sweet Sixteen" for the first time in school history as Lauren Boyle finished with a team-high 16 points. McKeon had 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Cook ended with 12 points and nine boards.
Bowdoin was led by 16 from Jill Henrikson as Leah Rubega battled foul trouble to score 10 points and 12 rebounds. Caitlyn Hynes had 10 points and nine rebounds in the loss. Bowdoin's 24 wins under new head coach Adrienne Shibles are the most by a first-year coach in the history of the program.