GORHAM — It lost its opener by two points, then lost in overtime to St. Joseph’s.

But the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball team never lost its confidence or ability.

That showed Tuesday as the Huskies upset previously unbeaten Bowdoin 63-49 at Hill Gymnasium.

Haley Jordan of Falmouth paced USM with a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds. Nicole Garland of Portland added 16 points. Courtney Cochran, who played for Woodland High, pulled down 18 rebounds, helping USM to a 42-34 edge on the boards.

Jill Henrikson of Bath scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Polar Bears.

USM improved to 4-2 while Bowdoin, ranked No. 10 in the d3hoops.com national Division III poll, dropped to 3-1.

“We’re four points away from being 6-0,” USM Coach Gary Fifield said. But he wasn’t complaining.

“You learn more about your team in these close games.”

The Huskies faced a quick Bowdoin team and opted for a matchup zone defense instead of man-to-man.

USM held the Polar Bears to 35.6 percent shooting.

“Their zone really bothered us,” Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles said.

“I think when we missed our first few shots, it got into our head.”

USM grabbed a 14-3 lead.

Jordan, a 5-foot-9 junior, didn’t miss much, hitting 6-of-10 shots, including a 3-pointer, and was 5 of 7 from the foul line.

“Just trying to step it up because I knew this was a big one,” Jordan said.

Jordan scored a layup at the buzzer to give the Huskies a 25-19 halftime lead.

USM built the lead to 43-35, then went cold as the Polar Bears enjoyed a 10-point run for a 45-43 lead with 8:13 left.

But the Huskies got back into sync. Jordan’s layup on a Garland pass tied it.

USM kept it coming – two layups by Cochran and a 3-pointer from Jordan Grant (15 points) gave the Huskies a 52-45 lead.

Bowdoin dropped back, missing 5 of 6 shots, and committed two turnovers. USM led 58-47 with two minutes left.

“We came up against a great USM team and we didn’t respond in the moments we needed to respond,” Shibles said. “They outrebounded us. And we had more turnovers (20-18). Those were the telling stats.”

Besides the stats, the Huskies will take a win against their strongest opponent to date.

“I think by winning this game, it shows that we can play with the best of them,” Garland said.

 

NOTES: USM goes on the road Saturday for its first Little East Conference game, at Eastern Connecticut. The Huskies aren’t home again until their holiday tournament Dec. 30-31. Bowdoin is at Colby on Saturday in a game that doesn’t count in the NESCAC standings USM senior guard Renee Nicholas of Sebago didn’t play because of an undisclosed injury.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH