AMHERST, MA – The University of Rochester women's basketball team held off a 2nd half charge from Bowdoin College to win 60-53 in the NCAA Division III Sectional Semifinals held at Amherst College's LeFrak Gymnasium.
Rochester moves onto the national quarterfinals and will play the winner of the Stevens and host Amherst from Friday night at 6 pm on Saturday. This is the fourth ever trip to the Elite 8 for a Rochester team, with the last coming in 2009-10 when the Yellowjackets reached the Final Four.
The Yellowjackets (23-5) used some stifling defense throughout the game to hold the Polar Bears (22-7) to a season low 26.7% (20-75) shooting.
"We wanted to chase them off the three point line and force them inside," said UR head coach Jim Scheible. "Our defense was outstanding in the first half, not giving them any good looks."
After Rochester was able to grab a 16-point halftime lead, Bowdoin began to claw back into it during the 3rd quarter, starting the period on a 10-3 run. UR's Sarah Kaminsky stopped the bleeding with a big 3-pointer from the wing, one of her three treys in the contest.
"Sarah had a great second half, she made some big shots for us, keeping the momentum on our side," said Scheible.
Bowdoin really stepped up the pressure in the 4th, using an 8-1 run to pull within four points with under two minutes to play. But Kaminsky came up big again, sinking a huge shot from long range to put the Yellowjackets back up by seven, 52-45 with just 1:28 remaining.
The Polar Bears were able to make a couple three's down the stretch, but Rochester made its free throws and was able to secure the victory.
Kaminsky ended up scoring all 10 of her points in the second half while a big first half powered Kayla Kibling to a team high 16 points.
At the end of one, Rochester held a 19-15 lead, led by nine points from Lauren Deming who was 4-4 from the floor in the quarter. As a team the Yellowjackets shot 57% in the first, making 8 of 14 attempts including 3 of 5 from long range. Bowdoin was able to stay in it on the strength of its offensive rebounding, grabbing six offensive boards which led to six 2nd chance points. Deming would finish with 11 points and five rebounds on the day.
The Polar Bears struggled to get any offense going in the second quarter, making just 2 of 16 shots, and was outscored 16-4 by the Yellowjackets. Bowdoin ended the half around 19% (7-37) shooting.
Rochester was able to parlay that into a 12-0 run to start the quarter and build a 16-point lead with 5:17 left in the 2nd. During the spurt, five different Yellowjackets scored, highlighted by 3-pointers by Kibling and Brynn Lauer.
"In the second quarter we rushed our shots and were off balance," explained Bowdoin head coach Adrienne Shibles. "We needed to show more poise on offense, and I thought we did that in the second half."
At the break, Rochester was up 35-19. Bowdoin's 19-point halftime output matched a season low while the 35 points allowed in the opening 20 minutes was the second most allowed by the Polar Bears this season.
In the game, Bowdoin was led by senior Shannon Brady who poured in a game high 22 points, also grabbing 12 rebounds and blocked four shots. Junior Marle Curle was the only other Polar Bear in double figures, scoring 17 points.
Friday's contest was only the fourth meeting ever between the Yellowjackets and the Polar Bears, and only the second time the two squads have met in postseason play. Back in 2006-07, Bowdoin topped UR 63-53 in the sectional semifinal round at the University of Scranton.
A win in Saturday's sectional final will put Rochester into its fourth ever final four, as UR made the national semis in the 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2009-10 seasons.