AMHERST, Mass. – The Bowdoin women’s basketball team left everything they had on the court at LeFrak Gymnasium Friday night, falling in overtime to unbeaten Babson College 61-58 to end its run in the NCAA Division III tourney.

Babson (30-0) overcame a 15-0 second-half run by the Polar Bears and tied the game with a clutch 3-pointer by forward Nicki Wurdeman to force OT.

There, the Beavers outscored Bowdoin 5-2 at the free-throw line to earn a second straight trip to the Elite 8. It is the team’s best season on record.

“This is a huge disappointment for us,” said Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles whose team finishes at 24-6. “We had huge aspirations. This is truly a special team. They’re a very cohesive group. They made the season the most enjoyable season a coach could have.”

Babson struggled with Bowdoin’s defensive pressure for much of the game, turning the ball over 27 times.

But the Beavers outrebounded the Polar Bears 53-33 and shot better: 37.7 percent to Bowdoin’s 31.1 percent.

Bowdoin, which trailed by a point at halftime, pulled ahead with a run in the second half with 12:03 to go in the game.

By the end of the run — which featured three steals — Bowdoin was ahead 47-39.

“We were just talking about how there were times in that game where we’ve never felt closer as a team,” said senior guard Katie Bergeron who had a game-high 17 points. “Every single player gave 110 percent. Just tasting the win was hard.”

Babson called a timeout and quickly got back in the game with a layup by Wurdeman, who was a force in the post.

“I told them at the timeout this is a team that hasn’t lost,” said Shibles. “They’re going to find a way to win — that shot that Wurdeman got. Credit to them. I wish we’d shot the ball a little better tonight, but I don’t want to take anything away from Babson.”

Bowdoin guard Kaitlin Donahoe hit a 3-pointer that gave her team new life. But Babson guard Damisi Adewumi drove the basket twice for scores to get Babson within five, 50-45.

From there the Beavers used an 8-6 run to make it 56-53.

With 36.1 seconds left in regulation, Alexa Barry missed a shot from the free-throw line opening the door for Wurdeman’s 3-pointer to tie it and force OT.

“I hadn’t been shooting well from outside and was happy we could do that,” said Wurdeman. “We were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. And I think it finally clicked in our heads that we don’t want to go home. We worked so hard to this point and didn’t want to give it to them.”

Bowdoin turned the ball over five times in OT and went 0 for 6 from the field.

“That 3 at the end of regulation was kind of like a punch in the gut,” said Bergeron. “I think that we were just looking for a shot too much. We knew what we had to do. It was too frantic.”

It was still anyone’s game.

Babson turned the ball over four times in overtime and went 0 for 5 from the field. But the Beavers’ 5-of-9 free-throw shooting was good enough.

Forward Sarah Collins, who had just returned from a right hand injury and was shooting left-handed, hit 2 of 2, Kathleen King went 2 for 2 and Wurdeman hit her second of two with just 1.1 seconds left.

From there Bowdoin rebounded and Jill Henrikson heaved the ball in desperation as the buzzer sounded.

“I think this is a special team. They refuse to lose,” said Babson Coach Judy Blinstrub. “They rose to the occasion. I thought (Bowdoin) played a great game, really denied passes, and were aggressive.

“They did a real good job on the boards boxing out. They didn’t quit either.”

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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