Bowdoin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams gained at-large berths Monday in the NCAA Division III tournament that begins Friday with first-round games.

The Bowdoin women (21-5) will be a first-round host and play will play Castleton (Vt.) State (25-3). In the other game, Roger Williams (22-6) will meet Plattsburgh St. (22-5).

The Bowdoin men will play Richard Stockton College (23-4) of Pomona, N.J., at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa.

The University of New England (26-2) and St. Joseph’s College (23-5) were automatic selections in the women’s tournament as champions of their conferences.

UNE won the Commonwealth Coast Conference with a 61-50 win over Roger Williams on Saturday and St. Joseph’s beat Norwich University 63-47 for the Great Northern Athletic Conference title.

UNE will play New York University (19-5) and St. Joe’s will play top-ranked Tufts University (26-1). Both games are at Tufts.

Sixty-four teams qualified for the women’s tournament; the men’s field has 62 teams.

The Bowdoin women are making their 13th appearance in 14 years with their lone absence in that stretch coming last season. The Polar Bears lost in the national final in 2004.

St. Joseph’s will be making its first NCAA tournament appearance. In Tufts, the Monks are playing the top-ranked team in New England and one of the best in the country.

“We’re excited to be playing in the tournament,” said St. Joe’s Coach Mike McDevitt.

“At this point, there are no easy games. To think you’re going to get an easy draw it’s not going to happen. We’re going to play loose and hard. All the pressure is on them. We’re happy that the game is geographically close so that our fans can attend. We could have been sent 500 miles away,” he said.

The Husson men are the other Maine team in the tournament. The Eagles (26-2) received an automatic bid for winning the North Atlantic Conference championship with a 96-89 overtime win over the University of Maine at Farmington. For the second straight year, Husson will play in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Husson will face Eastern Connecticut State (22-6). Plattsburgh (22-5) plays MIT (20-8) in the other game. Husson is making its fourth trip to the national tournament in six years.

“We have gained a lot of experience playing in the NCAA’s over the past few years and to return to the same site as last year will help us prepare,” said Husson Coach Warren Caruso.

UNE, making its fourth trip to the tournament in five years, plays Tufts for the second time in three seasons.
“Four of the players have played at Tufts,” said UNE Coach Anthony Ewing.

“Last year, we played at Amherst. Everyone but the freshmen know the drive and the pomp and circumstance of playing in the tournament. Every tournament is different, but one thing that isn’t different, is that you have to beat good teams to do well.”

The Bowdoin men haven’t played since losing a New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinal game in triple overtime to Trinity on Feb. 22.

“We’ve played good basketball all along, said Coach Tim Kilbride. “We lost a few games down the stretch, but they were close,” he said.

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH