BRUNSWICK – Sixty straight home court victories don’t come to a women’s basketball team without an internal alarm system that takes every opponent seriously, each game personally.

The seeds of Bowdoin’s 85-44 rout of the University of Maine at Farmington on Thursday night were planted back on Dec. 6. Or at least the next day, when the Polar Bears picked up a newspaper and learned what the Beavers did to some of Bowdoin’s old friends.

“They beat Bates,” said Bowdoin coach Stefanie Pemper. “That’s all the motivation we needed. We knew Farmington could beat us.”

Just not in Morrell Gymnasium. Or in Farmington’s first game back after a 26-day winter break. Or when Bowdoin (10-1) played this well.

Bowdoin buried a 3-pointer on its first possession, bolted to a 24-5 lead and didn’t commit a turnover in the first 14 minutes, ensuring there was no danger of UMF (5-2) duplicating its upset in 2003 or ending Bowdoin’s home unbeaten streak that started two years earlier.

Eileen Flaherty led the Polar Bears with 20 points. Marisa Berne added 18, matched Flaherty with a team-high eight rebounds and dished out five assists. Justine Pouravelis, Bowdoin’s lone senior starter, contributed 14 points and four steals. She also collaborated with Flaherty to limit UMF’s leading scorer, Kari Simpson, to three points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half. Simpson finished with nine points after topping 20 in three of her last four games prior to the holidays.

“The three-and-a-half weeks off are tough. I make our schedule. We have that same break every year, and every year we play Bowdoin the first game back,” said UMF coach Jamie Beaudoin. “They’re one of the top programs in the country, and obviously they continue to be successful.”

Karen Sirois paced UMF with 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

The Beavers finished an early-season run through the state’s “Big Three” of NCAA Division III women’s hoop in advance of their North Atlantic Conference schedule. In addition to its 62-59 home victory over Bates, UMF fell to Southern Maine by 33 in a Thanksgiving tourney. Bowdoin and USM are both ranked among the consensus top five teams in the country.

Berne, Pouravelis and Flaherty each hit double figures in the first half, led by the sophomore Berne’s 15, as the Polar Bears accumulated a 47-20 halftime advantage.

“We have confidence in our inside game and our outside game,” said Berne, who hit three 3-pointers in the first half. “One night it could me scoring a bunch of points. The next night it could be somebody else. All 13 players are capable of stepping up, and that’s a pretty big advantage for us.”

Ten different players scored a point for the Polar Bears, including Rumford freshman Alexa Kaubris. The first player off the Bowdoin bench, Kaubris chalked up nine points and six rebounds.

In addition to its depth and meticulous care of the basketball, Bowdoin demonstrated smothering defense. UMF went 1-for-13 to start the game and committed 14 of its 21 turnovers before intermission.

“We had the advantage of being back from break for eight days and playing two games. (Farmington) had only three practices, so it’s not really a fair representation of how good they are,” Pemper said. “My players kept talking about how in shape they felt.”

Farmington was a victim for the third time during Bowdoin’s streak. Only eight of those 60 wins have come by less than a double-digit margin.

“I’ve only been around for two years,” said Berne, “but being in our gym with a great crowd, we just seem to get it done. We’re very comfortable.”


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