Jones, Ashton Lead Westfield State To Senior Night Victory Over Framingham State, 74-52
WESTFIELD, Mass. – Senior point guard Janae Jones (Springfield/Minnechaug HS) scored a career-high 18 points and freshman guard Jen Ashton (Beverly) had 19 points, eight assists and four steals to lead Westfield State to a 74-52 Senior Night victory over Framingham State on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Westfield is 12-12 overall and 5-6 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference with one game remaining in the regular season, this Saturday at Fitchburg State. Framingham State is 12-12 and 3-9.
The Owls avenged an earlier loss to the Rams but the victory was far from easy in the final regular season home game. Leading 48-45 with 9:08 remaining, Westfield outscored Framingham, 26-7, over the game final nine minutes to finally pull away.
Jones sparked the surge by scoring 14 of her 18 points in the second half. The speedy 4-11 point guard also had three assists and four steals and only two turnovers.
"Janae played a phenomenal game," said Westfield head coach Andrea Bertini. "Her defense was great and she always found the ball. She was tough on their point guard and offensively she kept control of the game and took good shots."
"I felt loose. I knew Framingham was going to come play even though it was our Senior Day and I am glad we pulled out the win," said Jones. "I am just surprised at how easy they (points) came to me. I got going early and never slowed down."
Both teams had first-half scoring runs. Paced by the 3-point shooting of junior guard Courtney Kegresse (Adams/Hoosac Valley), the Owls jumped out to an early 14-4 lead. But the scrappy Rams moved the ball well offensively and went on a 13-0 run to take a 17-14 lead.
Westfield trailed 25-20 but closed the first half with a 10-2 run for a 30-27 lead. Kegresse canned a trey and freshman center Gabby Felix (Springfield/Commerce) converted an old fashioned 3-point play during the run.
"It was up and down. We wanted to play a fast-paced game and that's what we did, forcing turnovers" said Jones. "Framingham is known for the scoring runs they go on and we limited those."
Westfield took an 11-point, 43-32 lead on a Jones layup at the 15-minute mark. But the Rams kept battling back, led by a pair of 3-point baskets by junior guard Madeleine Park (Blue Hill, Maine), who scored a game-high 20 points, to pull within three points, 48-45, with 9:08 remaining.
Westfield then closed the game with its 26-7 run sparked by a strong defensive effort and the scoring of Jones, Ashton, and Felix.
"Our defensive second half was strong" said Bertini. "We kept them off the glass and overall it was a really good team win. A lot of players were fighting thru physical ailments."
Jones was somewhat sentimental after playing in her 103rd career game for the Owls on Senior Night. She was honored prior to the game along with senior reserve guard Stephanie White (Easthampton), a transfer from Holyoke Community College.
"Everybody asked me if I was going to cry and I didn't," said Jones "When the season is over I am really going to miss it and the team is really a great support group."
"Janae has had good success over four years and she has really improved," Bertini said. "Steph has only been here for two years and her game improved and she was the perfect team player."
The future is bright for the Owls with two freshman starters in Ashton, the team's leading scorer who ranks fourth nationally in steals. And Felix had a monster game that was overshadowed by Jones' Senior Night effort as the 6-0 center posted a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Kegresse had 14 points in the balanced attack. Westfield shot 49 percent for the game, including 57 percent in the second half.
Also scoring in double figures for Framingham were sophomore guard Kristen Hoffman (Foxboro) with 12 points and junior forward Kia Minor (Edgartown) with 10. Hoffman was held to two second-half points.