RADNOR, Pa. — The late-season slump for the Bowdoin men’s basketball team carried into the NCAA Division III tournament Friday night.
And that meant the end of the season.
Richard Stockton, of Galloway, N.J., reached the second round with a 72-66 victory against the Polar Bears, who finished with five losses in their last seven games.
The slump came after Bowdoin won its first 12 games and later enjoyed a 17-1 record.
“Still, making it to where you want to be means a lot to me as a senior and captain,’’ said Andrew Medlinger after the Polar Bears failed to recover from a 14-point first-half hole.
“If we weren’t as close as friends and teammates, it wouldn’t be as good.’’
Bowdoin turned the ball over nine times in the first half and failed to close in on Richard Stockton’s shooters, especially guard Rich Suhr.
The Polar Bears also weren’t able to establish their 7-foot junior center, John Swords, in the post early in the game.
Although Swords pretty much had his way when he got the ball, tying Medlinger with a team-high 16 points as well as pulling down 16 rebounds and blocking three shots, Bowdoin seemed more content to settle for 3-pointers, going 14 for 34.
The problem was every time the Polar Bears made a run or seemed on the verge of taking momentum away from the Ospreys (24-4), Richard Stockton had an answer.
Josh Blamon finished with 20 points and Suhr added 18, taking turns doing most of the damage for the Ospreys.
“We didn’t play our best in the first half,’’ said Bowdoin Coach Tim Gilbride, whose team didn’t get to the foul line until 6:40 remained and missed all three of their free throws.
“The second half we came out and played good basketball. There were stretches where we played exceptionally well, but they shot exceptionally well.’’
Richard Stockton led 34-28 at the half. Bowdoin twice reduced the deficit to three points, and two other times pulled to within four.
But the Ospreys held on and advanced to a second-round NCAA matchup Saturday night against Cabrini, the host team.
Bowdoin (19-6) failed to win at least one game for the first time in its four NCAA appearances.
“Five of our losses (this season), we had the ball with a chance to go up or tie in the final seconds,’’ said Medlinger, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and added a layup in the last two minutes before Richard Stockton put it away at the line.
“The second half of the season we were just one play too short.’’
Gilbride said not to read too much into any of that. “We’re a team that plays close games,’’ he said.
“Down the stretch we were losing close games. I don’t think it was anything in particular. We weren’t doing anything differently. It’s just the nature of sports.’’
Keegan Pieri, the former Camden Hills High standout, scored 10 points for Bowdoin.
In the second game, Cabrini improved its record to 26-1 with a 100-69 victory against Bridgewater (Mass.) State.
Bridgewater ended its season with a 16-12 record.