Holiday tourney set

OWL NEW LOGOWESTFIELD – The holiday season is also tourney time in college basketball, as Westfield State University plays host to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Southern Maine, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the 2014 Holiday Tournament at Westfield State on December 29 and 30.
“We have four quality teams coming in, and I think fans can expect great games to watch,” said Westfield State head coach Andrea Bertini. “They are all great programs, and Southern Maine in particular has been to a number of NCAA Tournaments and the final four on a couple of occasions.”
Westfield State was picked first in the MASCAC preseason poll, and has lived up to expectations with a 5-3 record at the break. The Owls are led by senior guard Jen Ashton, who averages 14 points, four rebounds and five assists per game. Junior forward Forbasaw Nkamebo is scoring 15.5 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore Jill Valley is enjoying a breakout season, tallying 8.6 points per night. The Owls have good depth in the post with a rotation that includes Gabby Felix, Rebecca Sapouckey and Tayler Travis, and are forcing opponents to turn the ball over more than 22 times per game.
“Our team is getting into the swing, having won four out of five before the semester break,” said Bertini. “With the exception of the loss to Smith we have been playing pretty well.”
The University of Southern Maine has been a regional and national powerhouse under longtime head coach Gary Fifield. This year’s edition of the Huskies has posted a 6-3 record overall and bring a three-game win streak to Westfield. Megan Pelletier, a 6-1 junior forward, averages 15 points and almost 10 rebounds per game. Rebecca Knight (11.6 ppg) and Ella Ramonas (10.4) are the Huskies’ other top scoring threats.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) enters the tournament with a 6-2 overall record. The Engineers feature a balanced attack led by 14.8 points per game from senior guard Dani Davis. Classmate Rachel Pineda adds 8.4 points per night. The Engineers have held opponents to just 53 points per game on 34 percent shooting, and nearly 20 turnovers per game.
Rensselaer Polytechinic Institute (RPI), from Troy N.Y., brings a 3-4 record into the tournament. Also nicknamed the “Engineers,” RPI is led by the dynamic duo of Ashley Clough (16.7 ppg) and Amanda Lynch (15.9 ppg).
“Rensselaer is going to be a challenge for us,” said Bertini. “Fans will see four good games in the tournament no matter what the match ups are on Sunday. It’s a good opportunity for us to play a couple of good teams as we get ready for league play after the new year.”
Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students, and children under 12 are free.
The tournament tips off with host Westfield and RPI at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 29, followed by USM – WPI at 7 p.m. The consolation game is Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. and the championship game will follow at 3 p.m.

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