WESTFIELD, Mass. – Senior forward Kierra McCarthy (Ludlow, Mass.) scored 26 points, including her career 1,000th, and the game-winner with 2.2 seconds left as Westfield State completed a remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter to defeat Framingham State, 80-78 in a matchup between the two top teams in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference at the Framingham Athletic Center on Wednesday night.
In a game that had everything, Westfield held the Rams to just 10 first quarter points and the Owls led by as many as 16, then fell behind at the half after a 27-4 run from the Rams in the second quarter.
Westfield tied the game in the third quarter, only to see Framingham grab an 11-point lead midway through the fourth.
The Owls stared a 6-point deficit in the face with 2:05 to play, but then forced a pair of turnovers to claw their way back into contention. A three pointer from Westfield's Allison Hester (Sutton, Mass.) tied the game at 76-all with 41.4 seconds left.
After a pair of free throws by Framingham's Mary Kate O'Day, McCarthy answered with a driving layup with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 78-all. The Rams' Emily Velozo couldn't convert on a drive with nine seconds left in regulation and McCarthy secured the rebound. After a timeout to advance the ball, McCarthy drove the right side and laid the ball in with 2.2 seconds left for the game winner.
Out of timeouts, a Framingham prayer from three-quarter court was not answered and the Owls escaped with the win.
Westfield improves to 9-7, and 3-0 in the MASCAC, while Framingham drops to 11-5, and 3-1 in the league.
The two top teams in the conference's preseason poll, as Westfield was picked 1 and Framingham #2, the Owls have beaten the Rams in the conference tournament championship game for three straight seasons.
Westfield got 25 points from senior guard Lucy Barrett (Mt. Greylock/Williamstown, Mass.), 13 from fellow senior Hester, and 10 points, seven steals and five assists from junior point guard Chelsea Moussette (Hampshire/Southampton, Mass.).
McCarthy becomes the 17th Owl to score 1,000 points in her career, hitting that milestone with a layup early in the third quarter. She now has 1,012 career points, and joined Barrett in the 1,000 point club.
Velozo finished with 21 for the Rams, while O'Day added 20.
Westfield appeared to have the rams rattled early, forcing 12 turnovers in the first quarter, and leading 23-10 after one period.
The Owls extended the lead to 16, 28-12 on a Moussette three pointer in the second quarter, but the Rams came roaring back, using a 27-4 run late in the half to take a 39-34 lead at the half. The Rams were 7-8 from behind the arc in the first half, including connecting on six straight triples in the monster run. Westfield, meanwhile, briefly sputtered, shooting a combined 2-15 from the floor and foul line with four turnovers during that stretch.
The Owls went back up, 54-51 on Barrett's deep 3-pointer with 2 minutes to play in the third quarter.
An Abbey Battaini 3-pointer gave Framingham a 57-54 lead at the end of three quarters. The Rams took their best shot at the Owls, connecting on 54 percent of their shots from the floor (27-50) and 55 percent (12-22) from three point range.
Westfield countered by forcing 35 turnovers, which led to 21 more shots for the Owls, and scored 45 points off of turnovers. Westfield got 41 points from the 'bench' as the Owls second line was fueled by McCarthy and Hester's big nights. Westfield used all 14 healthy players in the win.