BRUNSWICK – The temptation was to run. And keep running.

Adrienne Shibles, the head women’s basketball coach at Bowdoin College, cautioned her players to be smart. Run. But run with a purpose.

Everything the Polar Bears did had a purpose Friday night. Especially their defense.

Bowdoin clamped down on a fast-paced, high-scoring Baruch College offense to win its NCAA Division III first-round game 67-53 at Morrell Gymnasium. The Polar Bears held Baruch to a season low in points, 21 below its average.

“I thought they had a great game plan,” said Baruch Coach Machli Joseph. “They were efficient in what they did. They got back on defense and limited our transition opportunities.

“And we want to get going in transition.”

Bowdoin (21-6) will play Western Connecticut State (23-5) in the second round at 7 p.m. today here.

“We took a few minutes in the locker room to enjoy this one,” said Shibles. “But we’re pretty hungry for the next one. We’re excited to be playing at home. It’s a big one. And they are a very good team.”

And Bowdoin played a very good game Friday. In addition to playing stellar defense, the Polar Bears shot well from the outside, hitting 6 of 16 3-pointers, and turned back every Baruch challenge.

“Our chemistry out there was very big tonight,” said Caitlin Hynes, who hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game for Bowdoin.

Baruch, down 38-25 at the half, had battled hard in the second half. Going inside, the Bearcats kept getting multiple shots at the basket.

During one sequence early in the second half, the Bearcats grabbed six offensive rebounds but missed all seven shots.

“When that didn’t go down,” said Joseph, “I turned down the bench and said, ‘Wow, it’s that type of day for us.’ “

Still, the Bearcats got within nine on a drive by Monique Salmon (16 points) with 6:10 remaining, then missed two opportunities to cut the deficit to seven. Hynes (13 points) stepped up, hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 59-47 with 5:14 left.

“I had a lot of confidence,” said Hynes. “I knew it was going in. I felt that one. I knew we needed it and it went in.”

After a Baruch a missed layup, Leah Rubega (14 rebounds) scored inside off a pass from Katie Bergeron to regain the momentum for the Polar Bears.

Bowdoin spent a lot of the night playing at Baruch’s tempo: fast-paced and driving to the basket. While Shibles wanted the tempo to be quick, she wanted her players to know when to pull the ball out as well.

“Our emphasis tonight was to go out and play basketball, play Bowdoin basketball,” said Bergeron, who led the Polar Bears with 19 points. “We needed to get into our offensive sets and play the type of basketball we know.”

But it was the defense that really excelled. Baruch, located in New York City, really got its running game going only once, and that was early. The Bearcats went on a 6-0 run to make it 11-11. Shibles called a timeout, and Bowdoin came out and scored seven straight points, five by Ellery Gould, who had 14 points.

“It was tough out there,” said Baruch’s Salmon. “We’re a transition team and basically they shut down our transition.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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