The Bowdoin College women’s basketball team is no stranger to the NCAA Division III tournament or hosting the first and second rounds.
The program is making its 13th trip in the last 14 years to the tournament, and will host the first two rounds for the 10th time.
The Polar Bears (21-5) will play Castleton State (25-3) of Vermont at 7 p.m. Friday at Morrell Gymnasium.
Roger Williams (22-6) and Plattsburg State (22-5) play in the opening game at 5. The winners will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
“We’re so excited to host and have a chance to play one and hopefully two games before our great fans,” said Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles.
“We missed the tournament last year. We have a very young team. Six players were on the team when we played at Ithaca College two years ago.”
Bowdoin won two games at Ithaca and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Shibles said being selected to host the first two rounds is based on a variety of factors, including strength of schedule and location.
“The fact that we’ve run really nice tournaments in the past is also a factor,” she said.
Bowdoin lost to Amherst 45-42 last Saturday in the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals at Medford, Mass.
“We played well defensively but we rushed things offensively,” said Shibles.
Castleton is in the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. The Spartans earned an automatic bid by winnning the North Atlantic Conference with a 73-49 victory against Colby-Sawyer.
“Castleton is a senior-laden team that comes into the tournament with a lot of confidence. They’re a disciplined team that runs excellent offensive sets,” said Shibles.
The Polar Bears reached 20 wins for the 12th time in the last 14 years.
Bowdoin is one of the 12 schools that had both its men’s and women’s teams qualify for the NCAAs this season.
There are 64 women’s teams and 62 men’s teams in the tournaments.
The Bowdoin men (19-5) will play Richard Stockton (23-4) of Galloway, N.J., at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa., at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Polar Bears haven’t played since Feb. 22, when they lost to Trinity in triple overtime in a NESCAC quarterfinal.
“We’ve played good basketball all along,” said Coach Tim Kilbride. “We lost a few games down the stretch but they were close.”
Joining Bowdoin in the women’s tournament from Maine are the University of New England (26-2) and St. Joseph’s College (23-5).
They will both play Friday at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
UNE will play New York University (19-5) at 6 p.m. with St. Joseph’s meeting Tufts (26-1) at 8.
UNE and St. Joseph’s received automatic bids after winning their conference championships Saturday.
The Monks won the Great Northern Athletic Conference for the first time and are making their first NCAA appearance.
UNE is making its fourth trip to the NCAAs in five years.
Tufts is the top-ranked team in New England and one of the top teams in the country.
“We’re going to play hard,” said St. Joseph’s Coach Mike McDevitt. “All the pressure is on Tufts.”
UNE is playing at Tufts for the second time in three years and Coach Anthony Ewing hopes the team’s experience will help.
“Four of the players on the team have played in the tournament at Tufts,” he said.
The other Maine team in the NCAA tournament are the Husson men.
The Eagles (26-2) will play Eastern Connecticut State (22-6) at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Plattsburg (N.Y.) State.
Husson gained an automatic bid by winning the North Atlantic Conference.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: