Women's Basketball Falls to Montclair State in Round of Sixteen

Photo courtesy of Marcello Cutti, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Marcello Cutti, Jr.

MONTCLAIR, N.J. - The Bowdoin College women's basketball team couldn't battle back from a 15-point halftime deficit as they fell to Montclair State University, 61-54, in the Third Round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday evening.

The Polar Bears finish a fantastic season with a record of 25-5, reaching the 25-win plateau for the first time since 2007 and their 11th "Sweet Sixteen" appearance. Montclair (29-1) advances to play Salisbury on Saturday evening for a trip to the Division III Final Four.

In her final collegiate contest, Bowdoin senior Sara Binkhorst recorded 15 points. Marle Curle had 13 with eight rebounds while Shannon Brady scored eight points and grabbed eight caroms. Ally Silfen had nine points off the bench for the Polar Bears.

Montclair was led by 17 points from Janitza Aquino and 10 points with 17 rebounds from Mellisa Toble.

Neither team lit up the scoreboard offensively, but the Red Hawks were able to muster enough offense in the opening period to create a sizeable margin by intermission. Aquino had 10 first-half points and Rachel Krauss hit a three-pointer in the final minute to give Montclair a 33-18 lead at the break.

The hosts extended their lead to 17 points midway through the second half, 43-26, before Bowdoin mounted a furious comeback. Sparked by five straight points from Sara Binkhorst, the Polar Bears rolled off a 11-0 run to close the gap to 43-37 with 9:17 to go.

Bowdoin cut the lead to five points on four occasions over the next six minutes and drew within four points, 54-50, following a Curle free throw with 1:34 to go. Bowdoin got an offensive rebound and had a chance to cut into the lead further, but missed three shots to cut into the advantage. Aquino hit four free throws to extend the lead back to eight points with under a minute to go to seal the win for Montclair.

Both teams finished an identical 21-59 from the field, but Montclair connected on 17-21 from the free throw line compared to an uncharacteristic 9-17 for the Polar Bears, who entered the game as one of the top free-throw shooting teams in the nation. Bowdoin finished with a 44-42 lead on the glass.

The loss finishes the fantastic career of Bowdoin seniors Sara Binkhorst, Megan Phelps and Siena Mitman, who led the Polar Bears to 81 wins, three NCAA Tournament appearances and two "Sweet Sixteen" showings over their four years in Brunswick.