BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater State College women's basketball team will be hosting Bowdoin College in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday evening. The field of 63 teams and the tournament pairings were officially announced this morning by the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Committee.
The Bears, who will be making the program's fifth appearance in the national tournament and first since the 1985-86 season, defeated Salem State on Saturday, 63-61, to captured their first MASCAC Tournament championship.
Also joining Bridgewater State and Bowdoin (18-8) at the Tinsley Center on Friday in sub-sectional play will be Amherst College (25-2) and Becker College (18-10). Amherst and Becker will be playing at 6 PM followed by Bowdoin versus Bridgewater at 8. The winners of the two games will go head-to-head on Saturday at 5 PM for an opportunity to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Head Coach Bridgett Casey, now in her 11th season at the helm, has directed the team to a 22-4 record and an 11-1 mark in the MASCAC this season as she earned MASCAC Coach of the Year honors. The Bears' were the top seed in the conference tournament, knocking off fifth seeded Westfield State in the semifinals before defeating Salem in the championship game.
Casey currently has a career coaching record of 154-128 (.546) which includes a 78-54 (.591) regular season mark versus MASCAC teams. Over the last four seasons, Coach Casey's teams are 72-33 (.686) overall and 36-12 (.750) in conference play. Bridgewater has had two 20-win seasons during that period as the Bears finished 20-8 in 2005-2006.
Bridgewater is led by their sister tandem of senior center Colleen Feeney (Providence, RI) and senior guard Caitlin Feeney (Providence, RI). The pair was not only selected to the All-MASCAC First Team, but they also both reached the heralded 1,000-point milestone this season.
Colleen Feeney, the MASCAC Player of the Year and Jostens Trophy finalist, has put together arguably the finest individual season in BSC women's basketball history. Feeney is averaging 20.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots per game while shooting 55% (190-for-344) from the floor and 75% (153-for-205) at the free throw line.
A six-time MASCAC Player of the Week selection this season and two-time D3hoops.com Team of the Week selection, Colleen has already set the Bears single-season scoring (531 points) and rebounding (336 rebounds) records. She is also within striking distance of the BSC school marks for made field goals, made free throws and blocked shots. Feeney currently has 190 field goals, 153 free throws and 75 blocked shots to her credit.
Caitlin Feeney, who was named to the All-MASCAC Team for the second time in her career, is currently averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game this season. She was named the MASCAC Player of the Week twice and earned ECAC Division III New England Player of the Week honors for her performance during the final week of the season when she helped the Bears sew up the conference regular season title. Caitlin is currently sixth all-time at BSC in scoring with 1,079 points.
Key contributors to the Bears success this season are also senior guards and Second Team All-MASCAC selections Melissa Murphy (Rockland, MA) and Justine Farroba (North Attleboro, MA).
Murphy averaged 8.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.4 steals per game before being lost for the season due to a knee injury. In her first season at Bridgewater State back in 2005-2006, she set the single-season school record for steals with 106.
Farroba is currently BSC's all-time leading three-point shooter with a .334 shooting percentage from behind the arc. She is averaging 8.2 points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game this season while shooting 82% (31-for-38) from the line and 31.4% (37-for-118) from three-point range.
Other key players in the starting lineup or off the bench for the Bears are senior forward Kelsey Collasius (Rochester, MA), junior forwards Ashley Coucci (Dartmouth, MA) and Lisa Barros (Foxboro, MA), sophomore guard Michaela Johnson (Riverside, RI), freshman forward Carolyn Swanson (Stoughton, MA) and freshman guard Corey Cuddihy (Scituate, MA).
Coucci, who started 15 of the last 16 games, has pulled down 4.7 rebounds a game. She also has 24 blocked shots and 33 steals to her credit. Swanson returned to the lineup for the conference tournament after missing six games due to injury. She is averaging 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 15 games this season. Cuddihy, who missed five games due to hand injury, has played in 21 games this season and is averaging 5.8 points and 2.1 assists. She is second on the team to Farroba in three-point field goals with 32.
Bowdoin is making their eighth straight trip to the national tournament and ninth in the last ten years. Head Coach Stefanie Pemper, now in her tenth season, has guided the Polar Bears to all ten NCAA Tournament appearances including a national championship game berth in 2004.
Bowdoin is led by junior forward Jill Anelauskas (Medfield, MA) and junior guards Alexa Kaubris (Rumford, ME) and Maria Noucas (Portsmouth, NH).
Anelauskas is currenntly averagin a team-best 12.4 point and 7.0 rebounds a game while shooting 78% (47-for-60) from the free throw line. Kaubris ranks second on the squad in scoring and third in rebounding with 11.9 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. She is also 75% (76-for-101) shooter from the charity stripe. Noucas leads the team with 85 assists and an oustanding .483 (43-for-89) three-point shooting percentage while averaging 8.2 points a game.
Bowdoin and Bridgewater have played just once before. The Polar Bears defeated the Bears, 71-53, in the opening round of the Wheaton College Invitational in November of 2003. That was the same season that Bowdoin advanced to the National Championship Game.
Tickets for the games are $6 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, students and children ages 2 to 13. Tickets can be purchased at the Tinsley Center beginning an hour and a half prior to the first game on Friday and before Saturday's single-game.