BRUNSWICK — The nation’s top-ranked women’s basketball team in NCAA Division III has a big game this weekend. Bowdoin College (10-0) plays at fourth-ranked Tufts University (11-0) Saturday afternoon.

Maddie Hasson

But Coach Adrienne Shibles hasn’t spoken to her players about the Jumbos yet. That’s because they have a game at Bates on Friday. “That’s who we’re talking about,” said Shibles.

That’s how it is with Bowdoin.

The Polar Bears are dominating their opponents, outscoring them by 41.1 points per game, but take no one for granted. They’ve obviously taken the message on their locker room white board – “Respect All, Fear None” – to heart.

“It’s nice to know that every day you’re playing against some of the best competition in practice,” said junior forward Maddie Hasson, the former South Portland High star. “It keeps us working hard and that translates into games.”

The 5-foot-11 Hasson has taken on a bigger role this season for Shibles.

She leads Bowdoin in scoring with 14.0 points a game and is second in rebounding with 3.7. Those aren’t particularly gaudy stats until you consider she plays only 18 minutes a game.

Shibles substitutes liberally, playing 14 players with nine averaging at least 13 minutes a game. The leader, junior guard Sam Roy, averages 25.5 minutes. And Bowdoin spreads out the scoring. Only three players average in double figures, but seven average at least six points a game.

That balance and rotation is “part of the culture here,” said senior guard/forward Hannah Graham of Presque Isle, who averages 7.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.2 minutes.

Shibles said the rotation has many benefits.

“I feel part of the reason we’ve been successful in recent years is our depth and utilizing our depth,” she said. “I think it’s important to get the young players minutes so that they’re ready to compete against (New England Small Collage Athletic Conference) teams now as well as in the future. But we really believe in having fresh legs. We press and try to keep tempo high. They may be only getting 18 minutes but they’re going hard in those 18 minutes.”

“It’s nice that everyone is getting opportunities in games,” said Hasson, who finished her high school career with 1,111 points and was a finalist for Miss Maine Basketball in 2016. “And that keeps everyone motivated too. You know there are other people who, if you’re not playing well, are going to take those minutes.”

Bowdoin lost in the national championship game to NESCAC rival Amherst last year and graduated three outstanding seniors, including conference Player of the Year Kate Kerrigan. Those who returned worked hard in the offseason – especially Hasson.

Shibles said Hasson “took her fitness to another level (over the summer). And she also worked on her basketball skills too. She’s a competitor. She has a phenomenal work ethic. And she’s a talented player.”

Hasson, who averaged 6.9 points last season, is playing mostly inside this year in the post or at the power forward spot. Her ability to hit the outside shot – 50 percent of her 3-pointers this year – and score off the dribble makes her a tough matchup for taller defenders.

Shibles said Hasson has become a great leader as well, a trait that comes from having a mother (South Portland High’s Lynne Hasson) who is a coach.

“She really represents the standards of the program day in and day out,” said Shibles. “She’s a phenomenal person … I think she learned a lot from her mom. She has that coach’s mind on the floor and off the floor.”

Hasson doesn’t know if her scoring pace will continue. And she doesn’t seem to care. “I know if I don’t score a lot one night, it will come from everywhere else,” she said.

The Polar Bears are focused on simply getting better, not where they’re ranked in early January.

“You’ve got to keep looking forward,” said Graham. “We can’t be complacent where we’re ranked here. At the end of the season is when we want to be ranked No. 1, not at the beginning.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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