Ashton’s 1,000th sparks Owls

en Ashton drains a left wing jumper to score her 1,000th career point. (Photo by Mickey Curtis)

Jen Ashton drains a left wing jumper to score her 1,000th career point. (Photo by Mickey Curtis)

WESTFIELD – Junior guard Jen Ashton (Beverly) scored a team-high 23 points, including her 1,000th career point, and sparked a 14-0 run midway through the second half to lead Westfield State University to a 67-50 women’s basketball victory over Salem State University earlier this week.
Both teams are now 5-4 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference as Westfield avenged a 78-62 setback at Salem earlier this season. The Owls are 12-10 overall, the Vikings 10-12.
Led by Ashton, who also totaled nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals, the Owls played one of their best games this season Tuesday. Westfield shot well from 3-point range (8 for 15), committed just 14 turnovers, and held Salem to 26 percent shooting from the field.
“Obviously making 8 of 15 threes helped a lot, and compared to the last game (vs. Salem) we did not turn the ball over as much,” said Westfield head coach Andrea Bertini. “When we keep the turnovers below 15 that’s the key for us.”
Both teams struggled in the first half. The Owls took a 24-23 halftime lead after Ashton scored her 1,000th career point with 25 seconds remaining on a left wing jumper just inside the 3-point arc.
Ashton became the 12th women’s basketball player and only third underclassman in school history to eclipse the grand number.
“Jen’s a multi-dimensional player,” said Bertini. “Seeing her get the 1,000th point was real nice.”
Entering the game with 994 career points, Ashton added drama to the historic night as she made only 3 of 10 shots in the first half. After scoring her 1,000th point, she appeared more relaxed in the second half.
Ashton scored 17 second-half points in making 7 of 10 field goal attempts, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, to spark Owl scoring runs of 14-0 and 22-4 that gave them a commanding 59-42 lead with 4:02 remaining.
“After scoring my 1,000th point in the first half I didn’t worry about making shots in the second half. I just had to take open shots,” said Ashton.
After six lead changes and four ties, Westfield finally took the lead for good, 39-38, on an Ashton layup at the 10:32 mark. Five 3-point baskets, including two from Ashton, vaulted the Owls to a 56-40 lead at the 5:33 mark.
After shooting 28 percent from the field in the first half, the Owls shot 55 percent (16 for 29) in the final 20 minutes, including 6 for 9 from behind the arc.
Another key to the Westfield win was offensive balance. Sophomore guard Keri Doldoorian scored 13 points as she was the only other Owl in double figures. But freshman point guard Alyssa Darling of Palmer played one of her finest floor games this season with eight points and four assists. Freshman reserve guard Kirsy Segarra of Holyoke also scored eight points and sophomore center Forbasaw Nkamebo of Amherst had seven points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Meanwhile, junior guard Rachael Carter and senior forward Ginny Fleming combined to score 42 of Salem’s 50 points. Carter had a game-high 27 points and Fleming finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
MEN ROLL: Junior forward Grant Cooper (Northampton) led a balanced attack with a game-high 24 points as Westfield State University rolled to a 73-63 victory over Salem State on Tuesday. Westfield and Salem both own 6-3 records in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, a half game behind first place Bridgewater State (7-3). The Owls improved to 13-9 overall following their fifth straight conference victory; Salem is 13-8.

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