Fifth-ranked Bowdoin built a 17-point lead in the third quarter of Friday night's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup at Scranton and held off a comeback bid to defeat the #10 Lady Royals, 66-54 in the Long Center. The Polar Bears improve to 27-3 on the season and advance to Saturday's Elite 8 contest against NESCAC rival Tufts, who defeated Messiah, 70-39, in Friday evening's first game tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. at Scranton.
The loss snapped a 23-game winning streak for Scranton, which ends another outstanding year with a 28-2 record. Despite being picked third in the preseason poll, the Lady Royals, who won their third straight Landmark Conference title this season, and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 21st time in program history while making the program's 31st overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Seniors Katie Broderick (New Fairfield, Conn./New Fairfield) and Katie Feehery (Media, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) played their final games in a Scranton uniform, finishing their outstanding careers with a remarkable 108-11 (.908) recording including three Landmark titles and three trips to the sectional round of the NCAA Tournament.
Bowdoin jumped to an early 8-1 advantage on Friday evening before Scranton outscored Polar Bears 15-6 over the final 6:20 of the first quarter to hold a 16-14 edge at the end of the opening 10 minutes of play.
Emily Sheehan (Dunmore, Pa./Dunmore) opened the second period with a layup to give the Lady Royals a four-point lead, but the Polar Bears outscored Scranton 24-6 the rest of the quarter to take a 38-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Bowdoin extended its lead to 43-26 early in the third stanza before the Lady Royals used a 12-2 burst to cut their deficit to seven points at the 4:15 mark. The Polar Bears pushed their advantage back up to as many as 12 points before holding a 52-42 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
Sheehan connected on a three-pointer to open the final stanza and bring Scranton to within seven points again before Bowdoin build a 60-47 advantage with 4:14 left on the clock. The Lady Royals pulled to within eight points twice in the final 3:13, but the Polar Bears held on to set up a rubber match with Tufts.
Kate Kerrigan led all players with 16 points and 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end while Abby Kelly also posted a double-double for Bowdoin on 15 points and 10 boards. Taylor Choate added 11 points for the Polar Bears, who shot 32.9 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point range, and 76.9 percent from the free throw line in the victory.
Feehery, who finished her career second all-time in field goal percentage in Scranton history at 55.9 percent, paced the Lady Royals with 15 points by converting six of her seven field goal attempts on the night. Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack) tallied 13 points to go along with a game-high five assists and enters her senior year needing just two three-pointers to break Scranton's all-time record.
Sheehan finished the evening with 11 points while Makenzie Mason (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) pulled down a team-high eight rebound for the Lady Royals, who went 40 percent from the field including a 16.7 percent effort from beyond the arc while knocking down 75 percent of their attempts from the line.
Bowdoin connected on 10 three-pointers on the evening including eight in the first half to just three for Scranton. The Polar Bears also held a 46-32 advantage in rebounding and had a 25-9 lead in points off of turnovers.
The winner of Saturday's sectional final between Tufts and Bowdoin will advance to the Final Four to be played next weekend in Rochester, Minnesota. The Jumbos and Polar Bears split a pair of games this season with Tufts winning in the conference semifinals after Bowdoin was victorious the regular season matchup.