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Women's basketball madness marches on

In like a lion, out like a…

Champion?

It’s possible.

The Bates College women’s basketball team continues to play through March for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, advancing to the Division III Sweet 16 with an 83-64 win over Emmanuel in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats will take on the University of Southern Maine Friday at 8 p.m. in Gorham. The winner will face the winner of Springfield-Wesleyan in the Elite 8 on Saturday, also in Gorham. Click here for directions to the USM campus.

Tickets to Friday’s game ($7/adults and $5/students and senior citizens) go on sale Wednesday, March 9, in the USM Ice Arena lobby starting at noon. There is a maximum of four tickets per person. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on Friday.

Advance tickets will be sold at Bates in the front office of Alumni Gym on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m., and Thursday noon to 5 p.m. Fan busses will depart from Chase Hall at 6 p.m. Friday. To reserve a seat, sign up when you purchase tickets.

The winner of the NCAA sectional advances to the Final Four, held the weekend of March 18 in Virginia Beach.

Making its fifth appearance in the NCAA tournament, Bates has advanced to the Sweet 16 once, but lost to Johns Hopkins, 69-56, during the 1997-98 season.

The ’97-98 squad set the school record for wins in a season (22).

It was a record that stood until this year.

Ranked No. 3 in the D3hoops.com national poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches’ poll, Bates is 25-2, having lost only to top-ranked Bowdoin. The Bobcats began the season unranked and climbed to as high as No. 1, a ranking they held from Feb. 8 to Feb. 29.

Last week, four Bobcats were honored by the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

A first team selection, Olivia Zurek ’05 (Arlington, Mass.) was named NESCAC player of the year, while Meg Coffin ’07 (Westford, Mass.) was named to the second team. Sarah Barton (Portsmouth, N.H.) earned co-rookie of the year honors, and Jim Murphy was named conference coach of the year.

It has been a season marked by records and milestones.

• Against Bowdoin on Feb. 1, Murphy recorded his 200th career win in 11 seasons.

• Against USM, Zurek scored her 1,000th career point. She is the No. 1 rebounder in Bates’ history (869) and ranks second in scoring (1,424). She was named NESCAC player of the week three times and Maine player of the week twice. She is a finalist for the Josten’s player of the year award.

• Bates tied the school record for consecutive wins, winning 12 games from Nov. 19 to Jan. 11.

• Bates finished No. 2 in NESCAC for the third straight year and won three tournaments (at Salem State, St. Joe’s of Maine, and Williams).

• The Bobcats set the school record for points allowed in a game, holding the University of Maine at Presque Isle to 18 on Dec. 10. Bates also set the school record for largest margin of victory (91), beating the Owls, 109-18.

The Bobcats beat USM and Wesleyan in the regular season, making them the favorite in sectional play. Bates beat USM, 61-37, on Nov. 23, and Wesleyan, 84-49, on Jan. 29.

Despite all the individual accolades this season, Murphy attributes Bates’ success to selfless team play, evidenced by the assist record set this season (504). It is the sixth time the assist record has been broken during Murphy’s tenure.

Murphy emphasized the team-first approach before the NCAA tournament.

Practicing in Alumni Gym the night before the Emmanuel game, he gathered his players around the center circle and said:

“Remember, if you shoot too much, people say you’re a gunner. If you dribble too much, people call you a ‘hot dog’. If you pass too much, people say you’re not aggressive enough. If you rebound too much, people call you a champion.”

It may look like a lion, but it’s Bobcat basketball.

For the latest sports news, scores and updates, visit the Bates Athletics Web site.



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