WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State got 21 points from Moody Bey (Monson/Springfield, Mass.) and 19 from Ty Sands (Kennedy/Waterbury, Conn.) as the Owls held onto defeat Lehman College, 84-81, in the opening game of the Rick Martin – Holiday Inn Express tip off tournament at the Woodward Center on Friday night.
Westfield led 42-40 at the half, led by as many as seven in the second half, but Lehman chipped away until the 6:16 mark as the Lightning finally grabbed a 71-69 lead on an old-fashioned three point play as Luis Hernandez (John Bowne/Santiago de Los Caballeros, DR) drove the lane and then converted the free throw.
Westfield grabbed the lead back for the Owls at 77-76 with a three-pointer from the left corner.
Leading 82-79 with 11.6 seconds left, Westfield State fouled Lehman's Jean Marcial (In-Tech Academy/Bronx, NY) as he launched a three pointer. Marcial hit the first and missed the second, cutting the lead to 82-80 and prompting a time out from Lightning coach Steven Schulman. The Lightning played it straight, and Marcial hit the third free throw to trim the Owls lead back to one point at 82-81.
The Lightning fouled Sands on the ensuing inbounds play, and Sands converted both free throws to boost the lead to three, 84-81.
Westfield (2-0) survived two three-point tries from Marcial on the final possession, the first on a turnaround off the inbounds play that scraped the front rim and the second off of a kickout that was rebounded by Westfield's Isaiah Headley (Westfield/Springfield, Mass.) to end the game.
Westfield shot just 38 percent from the floor and 28 percent (7-25) from three point range, but the Owls connected on 25 of 33 free throws, including 13 of 15 in the decisive second half. The Owls also grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and netted 20 second-chance points.
Lehman (0-1) got 28 points from Hernandez, on 8-13 from the floor and 12 of 14 at the foul line. Andrew Utate (Mount Saint Michael/Washington Heights, NY) added 16 and Mylo Mitchell (Miami South Ridge/Miami, Fla) 11 on 3-5 shooting from three-point range.
Westfield advances to play the winner of St. Lawrence and Bowdoin in the championship game Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Lehman will face the loser of that game in the consolation final at 1:00 p.m.
# WSU #