Westfield Rallies Past Salve Regina, 62-57

Sophomore guard Jen Ashton led Westfield with a game-high 15 points. (File photo by Mickey Curtis)

NEWPORT, R.I. – Sophomore guard Jen Ashton (Beverly, Mass.) scored 10 of her game-high 15 points in the second half as Westfield State University women’s basketball (5-3) rallied for a 62-57 victory over Salve Regina University in a non-league meeting at the Rodgers Recreation Center.
Westfield, which improved to 5-3, trailed by 12 points, 41-29, early in the second half then mounted its comeback.
Salve Regina’s Lauran Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.) scored the game’s first four points on a pair of free throws and a jumper. The visitors scored eight points in a 1:15 span on 3-pointers from Angela Paterson (Nantucket, Mass.) and Tayler Travis (Somerset, Mass.) plus a two-point jumper from Keri Doldoorian (Whitinsville, Mass.).
Brianna Del Valle (Belchertown, Mass.) started a 6-0 run for the Seahawks with a layup at 16:04; senior Kaitlyn Birrell (Hope, R.I.) followed with two successive layups during the run as Salve Regina retook the lead, 10-8.
After Gabby Felix (Springfield, Mass.) tied the score at 10-10, the Seahawks enjoyed another 6-0 run as Marissa Pendergast (Medfield, Mass.) hit two successive layups after a Dinan jumper.
Ashton converted an old-fashioned three-point play at 7:10 in the first stanza that gave the Owls a one-point lead, 19-18. Meaghan Harden (Sandwich, Mass.) swished home the only 3-pointer of the afternoon for the Seahawks on their subsequent possession to reclaim the lead. Pendergast added her own three-point play at 6:05.
Paterson and Felix combined for six more points to put the Owls ahead, 27-26, before Birrell’s free throws forged the game’s sixth tie in the first half and put the Seahawks ahead for the rest of the period.
Salve Regina (1-6) enjoyed a 15-2 run from the closing minutes of the first to 14:47 in the second for the largest lead of the game, 12 points (41-29). Each of the five starters had at least two points during that six and a half minute span.
Freshman forward Forbasaw Nkamebo (Amherst, Mass.) scored five of her seven points during a 16-6 run for Westfield State that ended with a pair of Felix free throws to tie the game, 49-49, with 5:22 remaining. Harden hit a jumper before Doldoorian made two free throws for a 51-all score; then Paterson gave the visitors their first lead, since 2:14 in the first half, on a fast-break layup with 4:20 remaining.
Nearly two minutes of scoreless basketball ensued before Birrell sank a transition jumper to forge the game’s ninth deadlock, 53-53. Westfield State grabbed a five-point lead following an Ashton jumper, a free throw from Briana Kelly (Hampden, Mass.), and a Felix layup.
Birrell halted the run with another running jumper along the baseline, but Ashton and Felix combined for 4-for-4 from the line before Seahawk freshman Kaitlyn Lendrum (El Dorado, Calif.) finished the scoring with a layup at the final buzzer.
Felix and Paterson both finished with a dozen points while Felix added a dozen rebounds. Birrell and Dinan both had 12 points for Salve Regina while Pendergast had 10 points plus a team-high nine rebounds.
The Seahawks are in the middle of their longest losing streak (five games) since suffering a similar skid in 2009-10. Salve Regina next plays December 30 in the Keene State Tournament against Colby College. The two programs have met only once before with the Seahawks taking a 62-59 decision over the Mules (Nov. 20, 2001).
Westfield State plays at UMass Boston this Tuesday and then at Elms College on Saturday, Dec. 15.

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