BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Lydia Caputi and her Polar Bears are in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament beginning Friday against SUNY New Paltz State. Bowdoin competes in the Ithaca, N.Y., regional.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE’S Lydia Caputi and her Polar Bears are in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament beginning Friday against SUNY New Paltz State. Bowdoin competes in the Ithaca, N.Y., regional.

BRUNSWICK

The Bowdoin College women’s basketball program has become comfortable being at home for the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Since the 2008/09 season, the Polar Bears have hosted a regional in all but two years — 2012/13 when Bowdoin went to Ithaca, N.Y., for the opening two rounds, and 2013/14 when the Polar Bears failed to make the tournament.

Last season, Bowdoin hosted Westfield State in the opening round. After a win, the Polar Bears ousted New York University to advance to the “Sweet Sixteen.” Bowdoin fell to Rochester, 60-53, to end its season.

The year before, it was home wins against Babson and Ithaca that sent the Polar Bears to Montclair State.

However, the 21st-ranked Polar Bears, despite a solid 21-4 season, will hit the road this time around.

At least, Bowdoin is going to a familiar place, back to Ithaca for the opening round on Friday.

“We knew that we had a chance to host and we were really hopeful about that,” Bowdoin coach Adrienne Shibles said. “But every year is different and it’s different for so many different reasons. We were hoping they were going to pick three schools from New England to host and they chose not to. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Back in 2013, Bowdoin downed the University of Southern Maine, 75-68, before knocking off the host Bombers, 55-51, to reach the “Sweet Sixteen.”

“I’m excited about the trip to Ithaca. It’s a long haul, but I like our bracket,” Shibles said. “Every game in the NCAA Tournament is going to be tough, but I’m really excited to go to battle with these women.”

This time around, the Polar Bears face SUNY New Paltz State at 5 p.m. in the first game, while the host Bombers are in action against the Rochester Institute of Technology at 7 p.m. The winners meet on Saturday at 5 p.m., with a “Sweet Sixteen” berth on the line.

Amherst, which entertains Regis in the opening round on Friday, Montclair State and FDU-Fordham are the other host sites on Bowdoin’s side of the bracket. If the seeds hold true and Bowdoin makes it through the Ithaca Regional, the likely scenario will see the Polar Bears back out on the road the following weekend. Amherst is the top-ranked team in the nation.

Also from the New England Small College Athletic Conference, Tufts is home for a regional and will host Saint Joseph’s College on Friday in the opening round.

The “Final Four” will be held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Let’s take a look at the teams in the Ithaca Regional:

Bowdoin

As mentioned, the Polar Bears had a solid season. A pair of long winning streaks — eight games early in the season and a nine-game run after a bumpy stretch that saw the Polar Bears fall to Tufts and Amherst — were big for Bowdoin.

Shibles uses her bench, with her Polar Bears pressing from the opening tip.

Senior Kate Kerrigan leads Bowdoin in scoring (8.8 points a game) and rebounding (4.8), while Abigail Kelly is a top player coming off the bench, averaging 8.2 points a game. Senior Marle Curle and junior Lydia Caputi average seven points a contest. Inside, Emily Campbell is a presence, while Sydney Hancock, Sam Roy, Taylor Choate, Lauren Petit, Rachel Norton, Hannah Cooke, Maddie Hasson, Ally Silfen, Olivia Ware, Hannah Graham and Cordelia Stewart each play big minutes.

SUNY New Paltz

The Hawks (18-8) are the champions of the SUNYAC after an upset 58-57 victory over previously unbeaten Geneseo last Sunday.

New Paltz State is paced by 13 points and 5.8 rebounds a game from Kit Small, while Lindsay Bettke puts in 11.1 points a contest.

Courtney Irby averages 8.5 points a contest.

The Hawks score 65.24 points a game while allowing 57.92.

“They’re very athletic,” Shibles said of the Hawks. “They’re very young. If you watch their games this season, you see great growth in their squad and I think they’re really peaking at just the right time. They’re going to be a tough opponent, but I have a lot of confidence in our team.”

And the keys to success for Bowdoin … “Our defensive intensity and pressure,” Shibles said. “We plan to extend our pressure as usual and if we can just really pressure that ball and bring the sharp rotations and bring our best effort defensively, that just really ignites our offense. This team really feeds off of great defense and produces a lot for us, so that, for me, will be the big key.

“I don’t think SUNY New Paltz has seen defensive effort like we can put forth, so as long as we show up and really can do that for 40 minutes, I’m very confident.”

Ithaca

The host Bombers are a solid 24-3 this season, including the champs of the Empire 8 League.

Ithaca enters the tournament hot, riding a 13-game winning streak and sits just outside the D3hoops.com top 25.

Like Bowdoin, Ithaca has balanced scoring, led by 10.9- points a contest from Ali Ricchiuti and 10.7 from Jordan Beers. Erin Ferguson is another big contributor for the Bombers, averaging 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds, while Julie Yacoloni puts up solid all-around numbers — 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals.

RIT

The Tigers are making their first ever NCAA Division III Tournament appearance after a 19-8 campaign and the Liberty League Tournament champions.

RIT likes to run the court, averaging 73.1 points a contest while allowing 59.6. The Tigers enter the tournament on a five-game winning streak.

Cori Okada is averaging a regional-high 14.3 points a game along with 4.6 rebounds. Jessica Glaz (13 points), Taylor Burns (12.6) and Julia Bender (4.9 rebounds, two assists) are solid contributors.

Kerrigan honored

Kerrigan has been named First Team All-NESCAC in honors announced by the league on Wednesday.

It is the first First-Team selection for Kerrigan, a two-time NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-NESCAC Second Team selection last year.

Kerrigan played in all 25 games and contributed in every phase of the game for the Polar Bears.


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