FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — It was outshot, outplayed and outsized, but the Bowdoin women’s basketball team wasn’t about to give up Friday in the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament, even when its chance of winning became hopeless.

The Polar Bears fell behind early, then fought back to throw a scare into unbeaten George Fox, but the comeback bid eventually ran out of steam as Bowdoin lost 71-55.

The Polar Bears kept George Fox on its toes until the Bruins pulled away for good in the second half.

“We’re just happy to get by this team, because we have a lot of respect for them,” said George Fox Coach Michael Meek.

The Polar Bears struggled from the start. They missed their first eight shots, allowing George Fox to jump out to a 13-2 lead.

Fueled by senior guard Jill Henrikson, Bowdoin soon climbed back into the contest. The Polar Bears’ leading scorer spearheaded a 19-10 run with two 3-pointers, and Bowdoin crept to within 23-21 late in the first half. The Bruins led 28-23 at the break.

Bowdoin junior guard Kaitlin Donahoe opened the second half with five quick points, and the Polar Bears were down 32-28 with 17:55 remaining.

But Bowdoin couldn’t contain George Fox’s 6-foot-5 center, Hannah Munger, who recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

She scored six points in the opening six minutes of the second half as the Bruins put together a 20-4 run that pushed their lead to 20.

Donahoe finished with 18 points for Bowdoin – all in the second half – but the Polar Bears weren’t able to engineer another comeback.

Henrikson had 14 points in her final game.

“You can see how tough and gritty we are as a team,” said Henrikson with red-rimmed eyes, wiping tears from her face. “We never give up, regardless of if there’s a 6-foot-5 girl and we’re all (under) six feet.”

Bowdoin was forced to play catch-up against a team that shot 56.3 percent from the floor (27 of 48).

Every time the Bruins found an opening, they made the Polar Bears pay.

“I’m happy with the effort from our kids on the defensive end,” Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles said.

“George Fox just did a really good job managing the opportunities that they had and taking advantage.”

Henrikson said she’s uncertain about her future, although she’s applied to the exercise science and sports studies program at Smith College, where Shibles earned her master’s degree.

“She’s going to be a great coach,” Shibles joked. “That’s what she’s going to do.”

For the Polar Bears, it meant the end of another 20-win season – their 11th in the last 12 years.

The senior class of Henrikson, Amy Hackett, Nicole Coombes, Ellery Gould and Alexa Barry helped Bowdoin make four NCAA trips to the NCAA tournament and reach the Round of 16 three times.

“Certainly these past few weeks have been really special,” Shibles said. “I think, despite our injuries, this team really stepped up come tournament time and showed what they’re made of.”

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