Bowdoin College survived a minor scare and won going away, while the University of Southern Maine dodged a major upset Saturday in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament.

After trailing by a point five minutes into the second half, No. 1 Bowdoin rattled off the next 15 points and clobbered Keene State, 77-52, in a second-round clash at Morrell Gymnasium in Brunswick.

Tied with less than two minutes to go in regulation, No. 8 Southern Maine squirmed away from Williams, 68-62, in a first-round thriller at Hill Gymnasium on the Gorham campus.

USM (26-2) hosts Fitchburg State at 2 p.m. today in a second-round contest. Fitchburg State downed Norwich, 79-60, to kick off a first round that was pushed back a day due to Friday’s storm.

The top-ranked Polar Bears (28-1) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the seventh straight year and await the Cortland State-Rochester winner in the sectional semifinals next Friday. Host schools for the third and fourth rounds will be announced Sunday. Based on Bowdoin’s lofty ranking and large gym capacity, the Polar Bears have a strong chance to host the regional.

Three-point shooting triggered every telling run by Bowdoin.

Katie Cummings’ 3-pointer ignited an 8-0 surge to start the game. After Keene State (22-7) clawed back to tie it at 14, Maria Noucas drained a trey to kick-start a 9-0 push.

And when 3-pointers by Bri Barnes, Michele Boudreau and Kristin Degou gave the Owls a 39-38 lead with 15:30 remaining, it was Jill Anelauskas’ turn to buoy Bowdoin from long range and fuel the 15-0 knockout punch.

Eileen Flaherty led Bowdoin with 26 points and nine rebounds on 10-of-13 efficiency from the field. Anelauskas added 18 points and six boards. Cummings dished out eight assists, while Alexa Kaubris of Rumford contributed six points, three rebounds and three assists.

Bowdoin hit 48 percent of its field goal tries and committed a tidy 11 turnovers. Sarah Begnoche topped Keene State with 12 points. Barnes chipped in 10.

Ashley Marble scored 26 points and pulled down 19 rebounds while Stacey Kent chalked up 20 points and five caroms to help USM ward off Williams. Marble and Kent were a combined 17-for-21 from the free-throw line, with Kent swishing four in the final minute to cement the win.

Freshman Nicole Paradis put the Huskies ahead to stay with two free throws. Paradis added a lay-up under duress to snag Southern Maine a 64-60 lead with 1:03 to go.

Meghan Stetson missed a 3-pointer on Williams’ next possession, and the rebound fell to Kent. Stetson scored a team-high 20 points for the Ephs (20-7). Maggie Miller complemented her 17 points with five rebounds and three blocked shots. Beth Lorge added 10 points.

Marble highlighted USM’s 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tourney with her 21st double-double of the season. Kent was equally instrumental in handing the Huskies a 35-27 halftime edge, knocking down all three of her 3-point attempts before the break.

Another 3-pointer by Kent made it a 60-53 disparity with five minutes left, but Williams responded with seven straight points, six by Stetson, and pulled even.

Angela Santa Fe added seven points and Lauren Samuelson six for Southern Maine. They combined for 10 rebounds.

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