WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State sophomore guard Christopher Prophet (Central/Springfield, Mass.) scored 24 points and handed out four assists to lead #2 Westfield State past #3Fitchburg State, 78-72, in the MASCAC Semifinals in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Woodward Center on Thursday evening.
With the win, the Owls advance to the MASCAC Championship game for the first time since 2015, when they won the title. The championship game will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed on Saturday, pending the outcome of tonight's #1 Salem State - #4 Bridgewater State game.
Westfield improves to 16-10 on the season, while Fitchburg's season ends with a 13-14 mark.
The Owls got out to a 40-36 halftime lead after an opening stanza in which neither team could establish a strong foothold.
Westfield held a 59-58 lead after Fitchburg's Jonathan Perez scored on a drive with 7:01 left in regulation. The Owls edged away to lead 66-58 on a pair of Jauch Green, Jr. (Cromwell/Hartford, Conn.) free throws with 4:05 left.
From there the pace of the game slowed, and the Falcons trimmed the lead back down to three on several occasions, the last with 38 seconds left on a Perez free throw. But on the ensuing possession, Westfield beat the Falcons over the top, and Vawn Lord's (West Springfield/Amherst, Mass.) layup gave the Owls a five point cushion they would not relinquish, with Prophet making four free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.
Westfield got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Green, and eight points and 10 rebounds from Lord. Marcus Collins (Rindge and Latin/Cambridge, Mass.) and Malik Pouncy (Springfield Commonwealth Acad. / Mattapan, Mass.) each scored 11 in a balanced team effort for the Owls.
Fitchburg was led by 19 points from Andre Ruff, and got 13 from Nicholas Tracy.