A loss in their conference semifinals was not enough to keep Bowdoin College from playing host in the opening two rounds of the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament.

The NCAA announced the 64-team field Monday afternoon. First-round games are Friday and the second round on Saturday.

Bowdoin (24-2) will play at home, and St. Joseph’s College, the University of New England and Husson University are heading on the road.

It is a short trip for Husson (19-9), which will bus from Bangor to take on Bowdoin at 7 p.m. Friday.

St. Joseph’s (27-1) will play at Amherst, Massachusetts, against UMass-Boston (25-3) at 5 p.m. Friday. The winner is likely to face defending champion and top-ranked Amherst (27-0).

UNE (23-5) will also play on a neutral court, in Ewing, New Jersey, against Rochester Institute of Technology (21-6). The winner is likely to face host The College of New Jersey (21-6).

Bowdoin, ranked No. 3 in the national polls, still was not assured of hosting, because of a NESCAC tournament semifinal loss to Tufts.

“I figured it was a 50-50 chance,” said Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles. “I knew our strength of schedule was strong, so I remained optimistic.”

Bowdoin’s only losses came to NESCAC rivals, top-ranked Amherst and No. 9 Tufts, a team Bowdoin split with this year.

The Polar Bears’ opponent was a surprise, since they have already played Husson, routing the Eagles 88-58 last month.

Husson won its third straight North Atlantic Conference title on Saturday, beating Maine Maritime 76-58 in the title game. The Eagles are making their sixth appearance in the NCAAs. Husson won an NCAA game for the first time last year, beating DeSales, 74-72, before losing in the second round.

Husson features 12 Mainers on its 14-player roster. Junior guard Kenzie Worcester of Washburn leads in scoring with an 18.8 average.

“I was half-expecting (the NCAA) to send a team we haven’t seen,” Shibles said, “like St. Joe’s or Roger Williams (which was sent to Pennsylvania).”

The Bowdoin-Husson winner will play Saturday against the winner of Friday’s game between Skidmore (18-9) and Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham (21-6). Bowdoin beat Skidmore 76-42 in the season-opener. FDU-Florham, the 2014 national champion, did not play Bowdoin this year.

The Devils are on a nine-game win streak.

Bowdoin is making its 17th NCAA appearance in the last 19 years. The Polar Bears have made it to the Sweet Sixteen 10 times, advancing to the title game in 2004 (a 59-53 loss to Wilmington, Ohio).

ST. JOSEPH’S is not going to Bowdoin, as expected, but the Monks are glad to be staying in New England.

“It’s a good draw,” said Coach Mike McDevitt. “I certainly enjoy the three-hour trip to Amherst, as opposed to somewhere in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Getting a chance to play a New England team has a lot of appeal to it.”

UMass-Boston began the year 1-1, with a loss to Colby College, before flying through its schedule, with losses only to UMass-Dartmouth (twice). The Beacons upset UMass-Dartmouth 65-56 in the Little East Conference championship.

St. Joseph’s is in the tourney for the third straight year and fourth in five seasons. St. Joseph’s has yet to get past the first round.

The Monks won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and are on a 26-game winning streak.

“We’ll probably look back (at the streak) and appreciate it a lot more down the road,” McDevitt said. “But right now, we want to get a winning streak of one – for our next game.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF New England is making its sixth-straight NCAA appearance, and ninth overall.

The Nor’easters have reached the second round three times (2013-15).

Reaching the NCAAs this year was uncertain as UNE had its struggles, including two losses in the last week of January.

“For a quarter or a half, our defense looked really good, but was not consistent,” said Coach Anthony Ewing. “Slowly, incrementally, our defense improved. And that makes our offense better.

“We’re playing the best we’ve played all year, which is a good time to do it.”

Senior forward Olivia Shaw of Saco leads the team in scoring (14.1 points per game), rebounding (9.7 per game) and blocks (52).

Rochester Tech is one of three NCAA teams from the Liberty League (the Tigers lost to Skidmore in the league’s title game). Four of the Tigers’ six losses came to NCAA tournament teams.

Friday’s game time has not been announced.

The host, The College of New Jersey, is making its first NCAA appearance since 2009, when it reached the Final Four.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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