Maddie Hasson, 14, of South Portland and Moira Train, 12, of Cumberland celebrate with their Bowdoin teammates during the 2019 NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament. With two wins this weekend, the Polar Bears would head to the national Final Four for the third consecutive year. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

BRUNSWICK — Even as the Bowdoin College spring sports season comes to a sudden halt because of concerns over coronavirus, there is one team on campus that hopes to be playing beyond this weekend.

The Bowdoin women’s basketball team is hosting the NCAA Division III sectional tournament at Morrell Gymnasium this weekend with an opportunity to advance to the national Final Four for the third consecutive year.

The games Friday and Saturday will be played before limited spectators. After previously announcing a ban of spectators, Bowdoin announced Wednesday night it will follow a new NCAA guidance and allow a limited number of family members to attend.

Bowdoin (27-2) will play Trine University (23-6) in a Sweet 16 game at 7 p.m. Friday. If the Polar Bears win, they will play the winner of Friday’s Whitman-Ogelthorpe game at 7 p.m. Saturday with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division III Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, on March 20-21.

The Polar Bears have lost in the national championship game each of the last two years – to Amherst in 2018 (65-45) and Thomas More in 2019 (81-67) – and look to use the experience gained in those tournament runs to earn another shot at the title.

“It helps to have that experience … and just to have a lot of people who have played in big games,” said senior forward Maddie Hasson of South Portland. “But I also think that even though we’ve had a lot of success, we’ve also had some tough losses that have driven us as well. The combination of those two has really helped us.”

The biggest advantage the Polar Bears may have this weekend is that experience. “It gives us confidence and the feeling of, ‘We’ve done this before,’ ” said junior forward Dorian Cohen. “It’s like when we won (last weekend) against NYU, it was like, ‘Oh, we’re in the Sweet 16.’

“I think most teams might be super nervous, maybe a little overwhelmed. But we’re like, we’ve been here before. We know what to do. We’re going to put our heads down and work hard and we know what it takes to move forward.”

Hasson, who leads Bowdoin in scoring (16.7 points), rebounding (7.9) and steals (1.9) and is second in assists (2.0), said getting to the Sweet 16 is, indeed, sweet. “It just isn’t our ultimate goal,” she said.

The Polar Bears want four more games. There are more practices to be held.

“One of the things we’ve talked about the last few years is that, every year we’ve made it to that last practice,” said senior point guard Sam Roy, who leads the Polar Bears with 5.4 assists and is third in scoring with 12.0 points. “We got in as many practices as we could and played as much basketball as we could.”

With all this past success, it would be easy to become complacent. Not so with this team. “Everyone knows it’s incredibly hard to get here and move on from here,” said Coach Adrienne Shibles.

The goal, said Hasson, is still to “continue to get better every day. Because we know our opponents are.”

“Every day in practice we go against some of the best competition in the nation,” said junior guard Moira Train, of Cumberland and Greely High. “Practices can be really competitive.”

Shibles said this group always focuses on what it needs to do better : “When we watched our film from last weekend, we paid close attention to the things we weren’t sharp on because other coaches are going to be watching those films and they’re going to want to expose us. We still have a growth mindset and know that there’s more potential to be tapped this time of year.”

And there is still the matter of winning the final game.

“To state the obvious, we haven’t attained the national championship yet,” said Cohen. “I think it would be hard to be complacent when you can see that in your future if you keep working hard and grinding.”


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