BRUNSWICK — The University of New England won a women’s basketball game at Bowdoin College for the first time in 25 years, relying on a strong defense Tuesday night for a 66-46 victory at Morrell Gymnasium.

Lauren Hayden, a senior guard from Chantilly, Virginia, scored 26 points to lead the Nor’easters in the Division III nonconference game.

It was an impressive win by a team that made to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Both teams came into the game as Maine’s only two representatives among the top 25 in D3Hoops.com’s preseason poll. The Polar Bears were ranked seventh and the Nor’easters were 17th.

“New England is full of a lot of strong teams,” Hayden said. “We’ve been trying to fight (to be among them) in all four years I’ve been here. Hopefully this is the year where we get our name up there and be recognized.”

UNE (3-0) used a collapsing defense to frustrate Bowdoin, which managed to sink just 27.3 percent of its shots (18 of 66). It limited forward Shannon Brady, a preseason All-American, to 10 points.

“We really focused on her and helping down,” Hayden said. “We put pressure on the ball so they couldn’t pound the ball in to her.”

“They were really collapsing in the paint on Shannon,” Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles said. “I think our team has been relying too much on her to score points, and we just kept forcing it down that gut instead of really moving the ball and sharing the ball.”

“It was defense, 100 percent defense,” UNE Coach Anthony Ewing said.

“They didn’t have the best shooting percentage. They missed some open shots they usually make but I think we gutted it out defensively.”

The Nor’easters finished the first half with a 10-2 run to open a 28-19 lead.

Earlier in the half, UNE ran off nine points to take a 16-12 lead in a 6½-minute stretch when the Polar Bears (1-2) went scoreless. Bowdoin closed within 18-17 with 6:20 left in the half, then went 5:48 without scoring.

“We really didn’t show a lot of poise tonight and I think we rushed a lot of things,” Shibles said.

“We’re a very young team and we know what we really need to work on now.”

The Polar Bears, who made it to the Sweet 16 last season, four times crept within 10 points in the third quarter. The Nor’easters reeled off an 8-0 run during a three-minute span midway through the fourth quarter to make it 60-39.

UNE was coming off a 101-46 victory against Bates in Biddeford.

“(Bowdoin) is a tough team to beat anywhere,” Ewing said. “It shows a lot of confidence and ability to win in different ways.”

Alanna Vose, a senior guard from Cushing who played at Medomak Valley High in Waldoboro, scored 16 points for the Nor’easters.

Abigail Kelly, a freshman guard from Bombay, New York, scored 10 points for the Polar Bears.