BRUNSWICK — When you score 81 points, it’s easy to overlook what happened at the other end of the court.

But make no mistake, defense was at the heart of Bowdoin College’s 81-50 victory over SUNY New Paltz in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Round of 16 on Friday night at Morrell Gymnasium.

Especially in the second half.

Leading by just six points at halftime, the Polar Bears held the Hawks to 23 points in the final two quarters as SUNY New Paltz hit just 9 of 44 shots (20 percent) and missed all 12 3-point attempts. In addition, Bowdoin had a 34-19 rebounding advantage in the second half.

“I think they forced us to play rushed and a little faster than we wanted to,” said SUNY New Paltz Coach Jamie Seward. “And they beat us bad on the glass and they beat us bad inside.”

The Polar Bears (29-1) will play Ithaca at 7 p.m. Saturday for a chance to advance to the Final Four. The Bombers (25-5) rallied in the final minutes to defeat DeSales 76-75 in the first game on a basket by Annie Giannone with 6.3 seconds remaining.

Ithaca defeated St. Joseph’s College 74-63 in the second round of the tournament.

“They have a lot of poise, a lot of confidence,” said Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles. “We’re going to have to bring our best effort.”

The Polar Bears jumped out fast and never trailed. After the Hawks (25-5) made it 2-2, Bowdoin scored the next 12 points. SUNY New Paltz kept rallying – trailing by just seven early in the third quarter – but each time the Polar Bears pulled away.

“We expected them to come out firing and hit those shots,” said Shibles of SUNY’s early 3-point shooting. “I think our defensive pressure just wore them down over the course of the game.”

Maddie Hasson of South Portland led Bowdoin with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Abby Kelly added 13 points as the Polar Bears got points from 11 players.

Bowdoin’s bench outscored the Hawks’ bench 27-6 with a former Greely High standout, Moira Train, getting eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

“We knew that SUNY was going to bring their best game,” said Train. “Coming off the bench we knew that, 1 through 14, we had to bring our best effort, play like we do and do the job.”

This wasn’t a perfect game by Bowdoin. The Polar Bears committed seven of their 17 turnovers in the second quarter, including three in the final minutes, to allow SUNY New Paltz to pull within 33-27 at the half. “That was the focus of the halftime speech,” said Shibles. “There was a lot of focus on taking care of the ball.”

Still, the Hawks trailed just 38-31 after a Rachel Simon basket before Bowdoin took off. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Samantha Roy and Train sparked a 13-0 run that was capped by a three-point play by Hasson, giving the Polar Bears their first 20-point lead.

“We just settled down on offense and tried not to turn the ball over,” said Train. “And just shoot your shot when you’re open. And sometimes they go in at the right time.”

“I think halftime came at a good time for us,” said Hasson. “We had a chance to settle back down at halftime and come out with the same focus we started the game with.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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