WESTFIELD, Mass. – League leading Westfield State consolidated its lead in the standings, defeating second-place Framingham State, 93-80 behind 18 points and 10 rebounds from senior center Rebecca Sapouckey (Granby HS/Chicopee, Mass.) in Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Athletics and Recreation Center at Framingham State University.
Westfield (14-7, 8-1 MASCAC) had five players score in double figures, as Kierra McCarthy (Ludlow, Mass.) and Melissa Gray (Peabody, Mass.) each added 18, while Lucy Barrett (Mount Greylock/Williamstown, Mass.) netted 14 and dished out four assists, and Chelsea Moussette (Hampshire Reg./Southampton, Mass.) netted 10 and handed out four dimes. Freshman Taina Slaughter (Chicopee HS/Springfield, Mass.) added eight points.
"That was exciting," said Westfield State head coach Andrea Bertini. "Everybody contributed … our floor spacing was good with good ball movement, and we gave each other room to either find Rebecca on the block or to kick it back out for three pointers."
Framingham drops to 13-9 overall and 7-3 in the MASCAC, two games behind the Owls in the loss column with Westfield holding a tie breaker edge by virtue of winning the season series 2-0, and the Rams have a half-game lead over Worcester State in what now appears to be a battle for the second seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
"We have three games left to play in the league and we control our own destiny now," said Bertini.
The Rams had the better of play early in the first half, and built a lead as big as 10 points, at 36-26 after a Mary Kate O'Day 3-point play midway through the second quarter, but the Owls rallied late in the half. After Bertini used a timeout, the Owls closed the half with a 15-5 run over the final five minutes, aided by five Rams turnovers. Westfield headed to the locker rooms tied at 41-all at the half after the Owls' Gray scored on a layup with 41 seconds left for the final points of the half.
"I used a timeout early because we just needed to settle down and finish in the paint," said Bertini.
The Owls grabbed the lead at 45-43 with a pair of quick buckets from Sapouckey and Gray in the first 57 seconds of the third quarter.
Sapouckey scored 14 of her career-best 18 points in the second half.
"I can't repeat exactly what I said in the locker room because it may have been a little more colorful," said Bertini. "But the play that epitomized Rebecca's game came with about a minute left in the game, where there's a loose ball on the floor, and we're up 11 and she dives for it to get the ball and give us another possession. She was frustrated in the first half, but she settled in and played remarkably in the second half. She was gritty and hard-nosed, and as team we showed a lot of overall resiliency after getting behind early."
The Owls caught a bit of luck as Rams leading scorer O'Day picked up her fourth foul with 2:35 left in the third quarter after Hester stole the ball from her. O'Day departed briefly with 20 points to that point in the contest before finishing with a game-high 25.
Westfield scored first six points of the fourth quarter, taking a 69-66 lead just 1:34 into the period and forcing a Rams timeout. An Alison Hester (Sutton, Mass.) layup put the Owls up 71-66 after a Rams turnover after the timeout.
Westfield led 81-71 after a pair of Gray three-pointers extended the lead and forced yet another Framingham timeout with 7:13 left in the quarter, and the Owls were not threatened from that point, outscoring the Rams 30-14 in the final stanza.
Overall the Owls forced the Framingham into 31 turnovers which Westfield converted into 32 points. The Owls took 90 shots from the floor compared to 56 by the Rams, and Westfield grabbed 24 offensive rebounds.
"We were all over the offensive glass and we preached that to our team all day," said Bertini, "as it is really important to what we do."
The Owls splashed 11 of 38 three-point tries.
Westfield will host Salem State on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Woodward Center in another key MASCAC contest, while the Rams will host Bridgewater on Saturday.
# WSU #