Mass. College Hoops: Westfield State Upsets Worcester States, 45-36

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Worcester State University sports information department, here’s this evening’s release from the women’s basketball game. The Lancers lost to Westfield State in the semifinals of the MASCAC tournament, and here’s the recap:

Worcester, MA — Westfield State sophomore Jen Ashton (Beverly, MA) turned in a solid all-around performance with nine points, four boards, four assists, and three steals to help propel third-seeded Westfield State past #2 Worcester State, 45-36, in the semifinals of the MASCAC Women’s Basketball Tournament this evening at Lancer Gymnasium.

The Owls (18-9) move on to the title game to take on top-seeded Bridgewater State on Saturday afternoon at the Tinsley Center. The Lancers (13-13) await word on a possible ECAC bid on selection Monday.

The meeting marked the 16th matchup between the two squads in the MASCAC Tournament since it started in 1989-90 and the 10th time in the semifinals. Westfield State is now 11-5 all-time in the tournament versus the Blue and Gold.

The Owls were also paced by senior Briana Kelly (Hamden, MA) who netted a team-best 10 points while senior Jenny Bell (Northampton, MA) chipped in with a season-best seven swipes.

The Lancers were led by senior Meaghan O’Keefe (Warren, MA) who recorded a game best 11 points to go along with 13 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the campaign. Classmate Kara Rogers (Lowell, MA) collected nine points and grabbed five boards in the defeat.

Worcester State came out of the gates early going on a 7-0 spurt to open the game after O’Keefe was able dial one in from long range at the 17:03 mark.

Westfield State then battled back with strong defense causing 15 first-half turnovers led by Bell who had five swipes of her own in the opening frame.

The Owls grabbed their first lead of the contest after an 11-2 run was concluded with a lay-up from third-year Tania Ortiz (Holyoke, MA) with just under nine minutes left in the stanza (11-9).

The Blue and Gold then tied up the contest at 11-11 after a pair of free throws by Rogers before Westfield State used an 11-4 spurt to close out the half after a trey by first-year Tayler Travis (Somerset, MA) made it 22-15 at the intermission.

To start off the second period, Westfield State opened up a 14-point edge after Kelly tickled the twine from behind the line with five minutes gone in the final period (30-16).

The Lancers then cut the deficit to ten after consecutive layups from Rogers and O’Keefe just 40 ticks later.

The Owls jumped back out to a 14-point margin with back-to-back buckets by Kelly and Ortiz to make the score 34-20 with 11:47 remaining.

Worcester State sliced the deficit to single digits after a Rogers layup and an O’Keefe which made it a 34-25 game with just over nine minutes left in regulation.

After a Westfield bucket, Rogers converted a traditional three-point play to help the hosts trail 36-38 at the 7:15 mark to get the standing-room only crowd back into the contest.

Kelly then converted a layup for the Owls stretching the lead back to 10 before junior Meaghan Burns (W. Brookfield, MA) hit consecutive jumpers to make the score 38-32 with 5:22 left to play.

But that was as close as the Lancers got as Westfield State utilized a layup by Ashton and a Travis jumper in a two-minute span to get the lead back to double-digits (42-32).

Worcester State cut the lead to eight on a pair of occasions in the waning minutes of the contest, but the Owls ran out the rest of the clock for the final score.

Westfield State played a tenacious man-to-man defense to hold the Lancers to just 29 percent from the field (14-for-50) while the Blue and Gold equaled the effort on the other end of the floor limiting the visitors to just a 31 percent clip for the contest (17-for-54).

The Blue and Gold were dominant on the glass turning in a convincing 45-30 margin in rebounds and used a 13-8 edge in offensive caroms to hold a 9-4 lead in second chance buckets.

However, the Owls had their hands in the passing lanes all night and used 13 steals to cause 26 miscues and parlay a 19-12 edge in points off turnovers.

Westfield State also lead in fast break points (11-0), points in the paint (22-20) and bench scoring (20-6).

The two squads combined for 13 blocks in the contest as the visitors had eight rejections as a team.

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