March 3, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

Bowdoin College is once again the reigning champion of the New England Small College Athletic Conference after downing Amherst, 49-46, for the Polar Bears’ eighth league title in the last nine years. 

The Polar Bears won the league championship every year from 2001-07, but Amherst took last year’s trophy.  The victory also gave first-year head coach Adrienne Shibles her first tournament title.

Junior forward Leah Rubega averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds during the tournament, highlighted by 12 rebounds in the Amherst win.  She was selected NESCAC Player of the Week for her contributions.

Bowdoin, which enters the NCAA Division III Championship on a nine-game winning streak, will host Castleton State in first-round action on March 6.

TITAN TALES: Illinois Wesleyan put an exclamation point on its perfect season by winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament title for the second straight year after cruising past Carthage, 75-55, on Feb. 28.  The Titans also set a school record for wins with 27.

Christina Solari, the CCIW Player of the Year, netted 18 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds as the Titans remained unbeaten.  Solari paces the CCIW with 10.3 rebounds per game, and ranks second in field goal percentage at a 62.4 clip.

IWU will host Ohio Wesleyan, winners of the North Coast Athletic Conference, on March 6 in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.

EAGLES SOAR:  Mary Washington took home its third consecutive Capital Athletic Conference tournament title, and fourth in the last five seasons, as the Eagles notched a 67-56 upset of top-seeded York (Pa.) in the league championship game last weekend.  York had posted a 16-0 mark during regular season conference action.

Freshman Katie Wimmer sparked the Eagles with 14 points and 10 rebounds as the squad earned its first win against York in three tries this season.  The native of Vienna, Va., is tied for the team lead with 10.9 points per game in 19 starts this season.  She was voted CAC Rookie of the Year for her contributions.

The Eagles will face Stevens Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 6 at New York University.

FLAWLESS FOX:  George Fox remains one of the two unbeaten teams in Division III women’s basketball after topping Puget Sound, 67-58, for the Northwest Conference title on Feb. 28.  The victory gave the Bruins an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship – the team’s third straight appearance in the tournament.

The Bruins have put together their amazing run despite losing five starters and seven seniors from last year’s squad that posted a 25-5 mark and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16.

Kristen Sielee, the only senior on the squad, set a new single-season mark with 103 blocked shots this year, and ranks sixth nationally with 3.8 per game.  The center also is fifth in the nation with a 63.2 field goal percentage.

Second-ranked George Fox will host the winner of Chapman and Occidental in a second-round NCAA Tournament matchup March 6.

HOME SWEET HOME:  Hope will host an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2003 as the Flying Dutch welcome Washington & Jefferson on March 6. 

The Flying Dutch will be making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance after claiming the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title with a 30-point victory over Saint Mary’s last weekend as they avenged their only loss of the season. 

Hope, which has qualified for the last four NCAA Tournaments, has play 14 straight NCAA road games, including the 2006 national title run.  The Flying Dutch enter the weekend on a 47-game winning streak on their home court of DeVos Fieldhouse, and are currently riding a 17-game winning streak.