AMHERST, Mass. – Babson received some late-game heroics from Nicki Wurdeman and held Bowdoin to only two overtime points, as the Beavers earned a thrilling 61-58 win against the Polar Bears in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship Sectional Semifinals. Babson improved to 30-0 and will take on either Amherst or Muhlenberg on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in LeFrak Gymnasium, while Bowdoin’s spectacular season came to a close at 24-6.
Bowdoin went on a 15-0 run early in the second half but let its lead slip away and missed a crucial free throw down the stretch, allowing Wurdeman to bury a 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime. The first points of the extra session wouldn’t come until Sarah Collins gave Babson a 58-56 advantage by knocking down two free throws with 2:21 to play. Katie Bergeron responded with two of her own to tie the score at 58, but those would be the Polar Bears’ final points of the season.
Wurdeman finished with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Babson, which held a 53-33 edge in rebounds and took advantage of its size throughout the night. Katie Bergeron scored 17 points to lead the Polar Bears, who missed all six of their field goal attempts in overtime.
After the first eight minutes of the opening period both teams were shooting 2-for-10 from the floor. Wurdeman connected on back-to-back layups as part of a 6-0 run that gave the Beavers an 11-8 lead. After Bowdoin hit a five-minute scoring drought, Babson pushed its lead to 19-14—the largest of the half—after back-to-back steals and fast-break layups with six minutes to go.
Bergeron took over for Bowdoin and scored seven straight points for her team, bringing the score to 21-21 with 4:13 remaining in the half. Jill Henrikson knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Polar Bears a 29-27 advantage with 15 seconds on the clock, marking their first lead in more than 11 minutes. Babson would close out the first-half scoring when Allanah Wynn hit one free throw and missed the second, allowing Kathleen King to score on a put-back that handed the lead back to the Beavers (30-29) as time expired.
The teams combined to shoot 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the first period, with Babson shooting 38.7 percent overall and Bowdoin close behind at 33.3 percent. The Beavers held a 23-14 advantage on the glass and got 10 points from Wurdeman, while Bergeron led the Polar Bears at the break with 11 points.
Colleen Sweeney opened the second half with a 3-pointer that put Bowdoin back ahead, 32-30, but the Beavers responded with a 9-0 run to mark their largest lead of the game at 39-32. The Polar Bears came right back to score the next 15 points and take a 47-39 lead, with 3-pointers by Henrikson and Ellery Gould highlighting the spurt.
The Beavers finally stopped the bleeding when they went down low to Wurdeman out of a timeout, but Kaitlin Donahoe buried another 3-pointer to give Bowdoin a 50-41 edge with 8:42 to go. Sarah Collins freed herself for an easy lay-in with five minutes remaining to cut Babson’s deficit to two points (50-48), but the Polar Bears quickly built a six-point cushion.
A 3-pointer from the Beavers’ Caitlin O’Connell made it a 56-53 game with just over two minutes to play, and the next points would not come until Wurdeman buried a deep three from the left wing with only 20.4 seconds on the clock, capitalizing on a missed free throw by the Polar Bears on a 1-and-1 situation.
Trailing by two in overtime, Bowdoin had a chance to tie the game when Bergeron went in for a lay-up, but Collins was there for a timely block with 15 seconds to play. Bowdoin had another opportunity to tie the game after Wurdeman missed two free throws, but the Polar Bears were called for traveling with only two seconds to go. Wurdeman went back to the line and hit one of her two attempts, closing out the game at 61-58.