Owls Defense Western NE, 62-52

Grant Cooper posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds vs. Western New England. (File photo by David Fried)

SPRINGFIELD – The Western New England University men’s basketball team concluded the fall semester with a tough 62-52 non-conference loss to visiting Westfield State on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Alumni Healthful Living Center field house.
The Golden Bears are now 2-6 on the season, while the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference-standing Owls improve to 7-1.
Lee Vazquez poured in 23 points for the Owls to lead all scorers, while also getting six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Grant Cooper posted a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Matt Devine scored 10.
Sophomore Musa Elsir led Western New England with 16 points, four assists and four rebounds, freshman Garey Allen added 12 points, junior Dennis Rindaldi had 10, and freshman Zack Askew contributed a team-best 10 rebounds.
Westfield State enjoyed a 33-27 advantage at the end of the first half on 46.2 percent shooting from the field.
In the second half, Western New England started with a 6-0 run to knot the score 33-all on a Rinaldi lay-up and four points from Elsir. But the Owls responded with a 9-0 run over 1 minute and 49 seconds to go up 42-33, keyed by Devine’s six points during that stretch.
Then at the 13:05 mark, a flagrant foul by Westfield’s Jordan Santiago sparked an 11-0 run for the Golden Bears who took a 44-42 lead with 10:28 to play. Allen drained three 3-pointers to spark Western New England’s comeback attempt.
The Owls, however, took the lead for good on a Lee trey, 45-44, and kept the Golden Bears at bay by making their free throws (10-for-14) down the stretch.
Western New England had trouble breaking the Owls’ full-court press that resulted in a season-worst 24 turnovers for 24 WSU points. The Golden Bears also struggled from the field shooting 33.9 percent.

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