Bowdoin captains Hannah Graham, left, Abby Kelly and Taylor Choate hold the runner-up trophy after Bowdoin lost in the NCAA Division III championship game for the second year in a row. Photo by Brian Beard

ROANOKE, Va. — Bowdoin College’s bid for its first NCAA Division III women’s basketball championship came up one win short for the second straight year Saturday night, as Thomas More completed an undefeated season with an 81-67 victory.

Kaela Saner scored 20 points, and Shelby Rupp had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Saints (33-0), who won their second national championship in four years. The Kentucky school is leaving the NCAA and joining the NAIA after this school year.

Abby Kelly paced Bowdoin (31-2) with 27 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals before she fouled out with a minute left. Hannah Graham scored 14 points and Maddie Hasson finished with 12.

Bowdoin, which lost to Amherst in last year’s championship game, got off to a good start and led 19-16 after the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Kelly early in the second quarter made it 24-18, but Thomas More went on a 12-0 run and led the rest of the way.

Rupp scored nine points in the second quarter as the Saints took a 38-34 lead into halftime.

Thomas More then ran off nine straight points early in the third to open a 49-36 advantage. Bowdoin close to within five late in the quarter and trailed 57-50 with 10 minutes remaining.

The Polar Bears then went cold in the fourth quarter, making just two field goals in the first seven minutes as Thomas More pulled away.

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