March 6, 2009

Courtesy of Bowdoin

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's basketball team suffocated Castleton State en route to a 72-31 victory in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday night. The Polar Bears (24-4) have won at least one NCAA Tournament game in each of the last nine seasons, the longest streak in the nation, while Castleton (17-12) was making their first-ever appearance in the national tournament.

Bowdoin advances to face Muhlenberg, a 80-63 winner over Westfield State, in a second round game on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door 90 minutes prior to the game.

Before a near-capacity crowd on Friday evening, Bowdoin forced 18 first-half turnovers and used a huge run late in the period to take a commanding halftime lead. After Castleton's Leeanne Ketchen scored the game's initial bucket, Bowdoin used an 11-0 run to take an 11-2 advantage after a three-pointer from Maria Noucas six minutes into the game. The Spartans were able to trim the lead to five points on two occasions over the next few minutes, the last of which coming on a pair of free throws from Laura Cary with 9:38 remaining in the frame.

Bowdoin responded with a three-pointer from Ellery Gould - who sparked the Bowdoin bench with a dozen points on the night - and keyed a decisive Polar Bear surge. The Polar Bears outscored the Spartans 25-6 over the remainder of the half, including a 13-0 spurt that included five-straight points from Leah Rubega. Katie Bergeron totaled 12 points alone in the opening period to give Bowdoin a 39-15 lead at intermission. The Polar Bears would extend their lead to as many as 44 points in the second half in holding Castleton State to a season-low 31 points.

Bergeron had six rebounds to go with her game-high 16 points while Gould went 3-3 from long-distance for the Polar Bears. The Polar Bears collected 16 assists on their 25 baskets, including five from Noucas. The Polar Bears shot 41% from the field in the win and improve to 31-0 all-time in NCAA and NESCAC Tournament play at Morrell Gymnasium.

The Spartans were led by seven points from Mary Nienow and six from Kristie Dunchus. Castleton connected on just 22.9% of their shots from the field, including 17% (3-17) from three-point range.