BRUNSWICK, ME – The Williams Ephs (12-4, 1-2 NESCAC) fell into an early deficit against the Bowdoin Polar Bears (16-0, 3-0 NESCAC) and could not recover, dropping their second straight game against NESCAC competition and third straight overall in a 74-52 defeat.
It wasn't going to come easy against a formidable and still undefeated Bowdoin squad that averaged a whopping 80.5 points per game to this point. But the Ephs trailed from the opening moments of the game and were unable to find rhythm on offense or create disruption on defense. In the end, the Polar Bears dealt the Ephs their most lopsided loss of the season, taking control of the game from wire to wire.
Bowdoin played a strong all-around game, but especially dominated on the boards, seizing a 43-22 rebounding advantage over the Ephs. "We've got to do the little things better," remarked Eph head coach Pat Manning following the loss. "Especially rebounding."
The Polar Bears' Maddie Hasson played a spectacular game. The senior forward, who's averaged 15.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 67.5% from the field, continued her standout season with 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 8 free throws. Hasson repeatedly knifed through the Ephs' defense, winning matchups in the paint and freeing up the Polar Bears' sharpshooters on the perimeter.
"When we doubled [Hasson], [Bowdoin] did a good job of kicking out," said Manning. "We didn't close out quickly enough, and they hit a lot of threes as a result."
The first quarter saw the teams alternate runs, with the Polar Bears having the final say. Facing an early 5-4 deficit, Bowdoin ripped off an 8-0 run. The Ephs responded with a 6-0 run of their own, featuring makes by Meehan, Dauk, and Mandyck. But the Polar Bears roared right back with another 8-0 run, taking a seven-point, 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Polar Bears only extended their lead in the second, outscoring the Ephs 22-12 in the quarter to take a 17-point lead into halftime. Hasson enjoyed an especially strong stretch, scoring five points and grabbing five rebounds in the second quarter alone. The Ephs were unable to mount any sustained runs, and faced a daunting deficit as a result. Williams' longest run of the quarter was just 4 points, and it came a minute before halftime. Bowdoin then closed the half with 4 unanswered points of their own.
In the first half, Bowdoin thrived from behind the arc and at the free throw line. The Polar Bears made six three-pointers to the Ephs' one, and made eight of their 11 free throws. The Ephs didn't manage a single free throw attempt for the entire half. Bowdoin also seized a significant advantage in the rebounding department, grabbing 24 boards – a full three times that of Williams, who tallied just eight.
Bowdoin never led the lead dip below 15 for the entire second half. To start the third quarter, Emily Chang '20 hit a line-drive three to give the Ephs some life. The Polar Bears, however, responded immediately with six points on their next two possessions. Bowdoin's lead ballooned to as much as 30 by the middle of the fourth quarter, and Williams could not mount any significant comeback.
While Hasson racked up points and confused the Williams defense all night long, no Eph managed to reach double digits. Meehan, Chang, and Mandyck tied for the team lead with eight points. Dauk and Gabby Martin '21 each tallied four rebounds, while Mikaela Topper led the team in assists with two.
Hasson was far from the only player on the Polar Bears to shine. Ali Meade scored 13 points and hit three of four from behind the arc. Moira Train scored nine points and dished out four assists, while Samantha Roy played a solid all-around game with eight points, five assists, and four rebounds.
While the stats were not quite as lopsided in the second half as they were in the first, Bowdoin still maintained significant advantages in nearly all of the major categories. In addition to the 43-22 rebounding margin, the Polar Bears outscored the Ephs 24-11 off opposing turnovers, and hit 49.1% of their field goals as opposed to 41.2% for the Ephs. Bowdoin also moved the ball more effectively on offense, logging 17 assists compared to just 7 for Williams.
Against a strong team such as Bowdoin, Manning emphasized that easy scoring chances are scarce, so it's imperative to seize the opportunities you have. "You don't get a lot of open looks, so you have to take advantage of the ones you get," commented Manning. Today, the Ephs struggled to make use of those opportunities, and Bowdoin was able to cruise to victory.
Tomorrow at 3:00PM, the Ephs conclude their Maine road trip with a matchup against Colby.