BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Marle Curle, center, here going to the basket against Ithaca in last year’s NCAA Division III Regional at Morrell Gymnasium, leads the Polar Bears against Westfield State in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Brunswick tonight. The game begins at 7 p.m.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Marle Curle, center, here going to the basket against Ithaca in last year’s NCAA Division III Regional at Morrell Gymnasium, leads the Polar Bears against Westfield State in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Brunswick tonight. The game begins at 7 p.m.

BRUNSWICK

When the NCAA posted this year’s Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament field, Bowdoin jumped for joy.

Unlike a lot of seasons for the Polar Bears, being at home, inside the friendly confines of Morrell Gymnasium was no guarantee, especially after Bowdoin stumbled against Amherst in the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals, 63-51, last Saturday at Medford, Mass.

However, Bowdoin did get a home Regional, and will meet Westfield State tonight in the second game of the opening round at 7 p.m.

In the opener, New York University takes on Lehman at 5 p.m.

The winners meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the second round, with a berth in the D- III “ Sweet Sixteen” on the line.

“We knew that we had a chance of hosting, but just to see it was thrilling,” said Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles after leading her Polar Bears to a 20-6 mark this season. “We all erupted.”

Here is a look at the four teams who will play inside Morrell Gymnasium:

Bowdoin

The Polar Bears faced a tough schedule this year. After splitting in a season opening tournament at Plattsburgh State, Bowdoin was knocked off by the University of New England, 66-46, in the team’s home opener.

“We really had a tough schedule, but we knew that we had players who could score from several positions with really good balance,” said Shibles.

A 65-39 road victory over Salve Regina got the ball rolling as the Polar Bears won eight straight games, including a 61-43 upset of nationally-ranked Tufts in a non-conference matchup.

Tufts found a way to win in the rematch, 53-50, in Brunswick, but after a loss to Amherst, Bowdoin reeled off another eight-game winning streak. Facing Williams at home in the quarterfinals, the Polar Bears rolled to a 73-50 win.

Senior Shannon Brady leads Bowdoin with 16.5 points per game and averages 6.2 rebounds. The rest of the scoring is balanced, with junior Marle Curle (8.9) and sophomore Kate Kerrigan (8.7) providing valuable points. Lauren Petit (6.1), Abigail Kelly (6.0), Lydia Caputi (5.4) and Ally Silfen (4.3) also have put up points this year.

Kerrigan, the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, averages 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals a game, while Curle dishes out 3.6 assists and pulls down 4.8 rebounds.

Shibles feels her team can return to the “Sweet Sixteen” for the second straight year. However, she knows how tough the competition is at this point of the season.

“When you get to this point, everyone is super talented. Westfield presses the entire game and pushes the ball, looking to score in the 90s every game. They often sub five players in at a time, and nearly every minute. I feel our bench will play an important role.”

Westfield State

The champions of the Massachusetts State Collegiate

Athletic Conference, the 20-7 Owls enter tonight’s matchup with Bowdoin riding a season-high seven game winning streak, including the conference clinching 92-86 win over Framingham State.

Westfield State averages 89.7 points per game while allowing 72.2.

The season started slowly for the Owls, who were 1-3 after four games.

Junior Jill Valley averages 17.3 points a game, while senior Forbasaw Nkamebo rattles the rim at a clip of 15.1 points a contest. Junior Alyssa Darling (11 points, team-leading nine rebounds a game) and senior Kirsy Segarra (10.8 points) are also key players for the Owls.

NYU

The Violets were perhaps the hottest team of the four coming to Brunswick through 18 games.

NYU was 17- 1, ( started 13-0), but a six-game losing streak had the Violets reeling before a regular-season closing victory over Brandeis gave NYU an 18-7 mark and an at-large bid into the D-III Tournament.

Based out of New York City, the Violets average 65.8 points a contest while allowing 60.

Junior Kaitlyn Read is a double threat, averaging 16.5 points a game and pulling down a team-leading 7.3 rebounds. Senior Megan Dawe is solid, averaging 15.3 a contest, while junior Amy Harloka pops for 10.8 points a game.

Lehman

The Lightning started the season sluggish, dropping three of their first four games.

But, Lehman found its game, picking up 11 wins in its final 12 games, including a 73-67 overtime win over Brooklyn College in the City University of New York Athletic Conference championship game.

Lehman (20-7) averages 73.3 points a game on offense while allowing 65.5.

Junior Amely Del Rosario averages an amazing 23.5 points a game, with senior Jennifer Navarro popping for 18.7 points. Seniors Karrin Walker (13.9) and Amani Lightbourne (13.2) are also key for the Lightning.

NCAA D-III Women

Division III Basketball Field First Round Friday, March 4

Thomas More vs. La Roche Guilford vs. Mount Union Lynchburg vs. Birmingham-South Maryville vs. Mary Washington Hope vs. Carnegie Mellon Ohio Northern vs. Denison Washington-St. Louis vs. Greenville Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. Bluffton Scranton vs. WPI Marymount vs. Cabrini Muhlenberg vs. St. John Fisher St. Joseph’s vs. Christopher Newport Montclair State vs. Polytechnic Albright vs. Husson Tufts vs. Regis University of New England vs. Moravian Amherst vs. Eastern Connecticut State Rowan vs. SUNY New Paltz Stevens Institute vs. Old Westbury SUNY Geneseo vs. FDU-Fordham

Bowdoin vs. Westfield State

New York University vs. Lehman Rochester vs. Johnson & Wales Stockton vs. Clarkson George Fox vs. St. Norbert Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. DePauw Texas-Tyler vs. UC Santa Cruz Claremont vs. Trinity (Texas) Wisconsin-Oshkosh vs. Wisconsin- Superior Wartburg vs. Wisconsin-Lutheran St. Thomas vs. Loras Wisconsin-River Falls vs. Wheaton


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