WSU falls in MASCAC semis

Westfield's Tayler Travis soars to the basket for two points. (Photo by David Fried)

Westfield’s Tayler Travis soars to the basket for two points. (Photo by David Fried)

WESTFIELD – Senior guard guard Kristen Hoffman (Foxboro, MA) scored a game-high 20 points and freshman center Alycia Rackliffe (Feeding Hills, MA) had 12 points, 14 points and three blocked shots to lead Framingham State University to an 62-53 victory over Westfield State in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) women’s basketball tournament on Thursday.
Framingham, 17-10 overall, will play at No. 1 seed Bridgewater State in Saturday’s MASCAC championship game, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Bridgewater rolled to an 88-62 victory over Salem State in the other semifinal game, led by senior guard Jenna Williamson’s (Ludlow, MA) 36 points. Bridgewater, Westfield and Framingham shared the MASCAC regular season championship with 8-4 records.
A second-half scoring run keyed Framingham’s victory over Westfield. Trailing 35-31 with 14:42 remaining in the second half, the Rams outscored the Owls, 12-0, over the next six minutes to take a 43-35 lead. Hoffman started the scoring spurt by draining the Rams’ sixth 3-point basket of the game, and junior guard Margo McCarthy (Southampton, MA) scored six of the Rams’ 12 points during the scoring run. McCarthy’s was Framingham’s second leading scorer with 13 points.
Westfield finally broke its scoring drought on a Tayler Travis (Somerset, MA) layup with 8:38 remaining that made the score 43-37. But the Owls were unable to bounce back from their scoring drought as the Rams maintained single-digit leads the remainder of the game by coming up with key offensive rebounds and canning 12 of 18 free throws, all in the second half.
Westfield closed within three points, 48-45, with 4:50 remaining on a jumper in the paint from freshman guard Kirsy Segarra (Holyoke, MA) . But a Rackliffe layup and two Hoffman free throws extended the Ram lead to 52-45 with 3:49 remaining.
Westfield made a final rally in the game’s closing seconds. Sophomore center Forbasaw Nkamebo (Amherst, MA) hit a layup to pull Westfield within four points, 57-53, with 28 seconds remaining. Nkamebo was fouled on the play and missed the free throw, but the Owls got the ball back on a jump ball situation. On the ensuing inbounds play, Westfield freshman guard Alyssa Darling (Palmer, MA) got a wide open look on the left baseline. Her 3-point attempt was on target but glanced off the back rim.

Jen Ashton drives past Framingham's Kristen Hoffman. (Photo by David Fried)

Jen Ashton drives past Framingham’s Kristen Hoffman. (Photo by David Fried)

The Rams drained five free throws in the closing seconds for the nine-point victory.
The first half was closely contested with five lead changes and two score ties. Junior guard Jen Ashton (Beverly, MA) scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half to lead Westfield to a 27-26 lead at the break. The Rams stayed within striking distance by making four 3-point baskets in the first half.
The Rams made 6 of 28 3-point attempts, including 4 for 17 in the first half. They shot 37 percent (22 for 60) and outrebounded Westfield, 43-41.
Westfield shot 33 percent (22 for 66), including 4 for 17 from outside the arc. Westfield held its one-point halftime lead despite shooting 29 percent in the first half. The Owls were 7 for 8 from the foul line in the first half but only attempt one second-half free throw.
Nkamebo posted another double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Ashton had game highs of five assists and six steals along with her 15 points. Travis tallied 10 points.

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