Bowdoin Claims Top Spot for Sixth Time in Tournament History
HADLEY, Mass. - Bowdoin College, the seven-time NESCAC Women’s Basketball Champions, will begin its pursuit for a remarkable eighth conference crown with the top seed in the 2009 NESCAC Women’s Basketball Championship. The Polar Bears will host a quarterfinal contest along with Amherst, Tufts and Bates next Saturday, Feb. 21. Teams that advance out of the quarterfinals will face off in the semifinals at the highest remaining seed on Saturday, Feb. 28 with the championship concluding on Sunday, March 1.
Bowdoin (20-4, 8-1 NESCAC) finished tied atop the NESCAC standings with Amherst, however the Polar Bears claimed the top spot by handing the Jeffs their lone loss of the season, a buzzer-beating 63-61 win on Jan. 30 in Amherst, Mass. After finishing fourth in the conference a year ago, the Polar Bears returned to form in 2009 and claimed the number-one seed for the sixth time, closing out the regular season with wins at Wesleyan, 63-52, and at Connecticut College, 76-59. Bowdoin’s lone conference loss came at the hands of Tufts on Jan. 24, 67-56. The Polar Bears will host eight-seeded Williams (8-16, 3-6 NESCAC). The Ephs are in the midst of a four-game slide, most recently falling at Amherst on Friday and to Trinity at home on Saturday. Bowdoin won the lone meeting of the season one week ago in Brunswick, Maine, 91-58. These two squads have met on four previous occasions in the postseason with the Polar Bears owning a 4-0 record over the Ephs. In the most recent tournament tilt in 2007, Bowdoin downed Williams 66-46 in the semifinals en route to the Polar Bears last NESCAC title.
The aforementioned loss to Bowdoin is the only blemish on second-seeded Amherst’s record this season (23-1, 8-1 NESCAC). The defending NESCAC Women’s Basketball Champions have rebounded from the setback nicely, winning their last five game including a 66-61 come-from-behind victory over rival Williams on Friday and a 71-49 decision at Middlebury on Saturday. Amherst will face seventh-seeded Colby (13-10, 4-5 NESCAC) in a rematch from last year’s quarterfinal contest that the Jeffs took by an 83-53 score. The Mules ended the conference slate in a three-way tie with Trinity and Wesleyan, however a loss to both squads this season relegated Colby to seventh. Although the Mules lost on Saturday to Wesleyan 66-55 they enter the tournament having won four of their last five outings. During the Jan. 31 meeting between Amherst and Colby, the Jeffs were able to fend off the Mules for a 65-64 win.
Third-seeded Tufts (19-3, 7-2 NESCAC), the runner-up in each of the last two championships, will host sixth-seeded Wesleyan (12-10, 4-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Jumbos cemented their standing in this year’s playoffs with a 62-51 victory over Bates on Saturday afternoon and have now won seven of their last eight contests. The Cardinals, meanwhile, also got a much-needed win on Saturday over Colby, 66-55, as they won four of their last six league games. One of the two losses though came at the hands of Tufts on Jan. 30 in Medford, Mass., 75-63. These two teams will face each other in the NESCAC championship for the second-straight year after meeting for the first time in the semifinals in 2008. Tufts posted a 67-50 win over Wesleyan in that contest, and the Jumbos have won four straight games over the Cardinals.
After opening the NESCAC schedule 4-1, fourth-seeded Bates (16-8, 5-4 NESCAC) dropped three of its last four league games, including the season finale at Tufts on Saturday. The lone win in that stretch came against the Bobcats’ first round opponent, fifth-seeded Trinity (16-7, 4-5 NESCAC), 68-54 on Feb. 7 in Hartford. The Bantams had a spectacular start to the 2008-09 campaign, winning their first 11 games before falling to Babson 54-45 just before the start of the conference schedule. After earning an 80-61 win over Colby on Jan. 30, Trinity hit a skid and lost its next six games before bouncing back on Saturday at Williams, 75-70. While both teams are still in search of their first NESCAC title, Bates has reached the championship game on four consecutive occasions from 2003 through 2006 while Trinity has never advanced out of the quarterfinals in its five previous tournament appearances. The only meeting between the two squads came during the first round of the 2002 playoffs with the Bobcats prevailing 77-59.
2009 NESCAC WoMEN’S
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 21 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Williams at No. 1 Bowdoin - 3:00 p.m.
No. 6 Wesleyan at No. 3 Tufts - 3:00 p.m.
No. 5 Trinity at No. 4 Bates - 3:00 p.m.
No. 7 Colby at No. 2 Amherst - 4:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday,
February 28 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 2:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday,
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.