WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State's women's basketball begins its quest for a fourth straight conference tournament title on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m., when the #2 seeded Owls host #3 Bridgewater State in a semifinal round game.
Westfield won the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title in 2016, '17 and '18. The Owls tied with Worcester State for the regular season crown with an 82-77 win over the Lancers on Saturday in the final regular-season game of the year.
The Owls are led by the dynamic duo of seniors Lucy Barrett and Kierra McCarthy. Both scored their 1,000th point this season, and they have combined for 2,468 career points – the second most of any pair of classmates in Owls history (behind only Jen Ashton and Gabby Felix '15 - 2524).
Barrett slots in seventh on the Owls' all-time scoring list with 1,317 points, and McCarthy sits 11th with 1,151 points. The Owls get scoring support from sophomore Melissa Gray, and senior guard Allison Hester has shown a flair for the dramatic in big games for the Owls as well. Freshman guard Siobhan Moriarty was named the MASCAC rookie of the week this week after a clutch fourth quarter performance against Worcester State.
Westfield State leads the nation in an eye-popping nine categories, including points per game, steals, turnovers forced, turnover margin, and three pointers made.
Despite the impressive numbers, the Owls should expect a battle if they want to get back to the championship game. Bridgewater handed the Owls one of just two losses in conference play this season.
The Owls tripped the Bears, 77-68 in Bridgewater in the first meeting between the two this season, but the Bears clawed past Westfield, 69-65 at the Woodward Center three weeks ago, in a game that marked Westfield's second-lowest scoring output of the season.
The Bears bring a veteran lineup that features six juniors and seniors among their top seven scores.
Senior guard Olivia DelGrosso leads the team at 11.1 points per game, while Kailyn Aguilar provides an interior presence for the Bears with 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Nicole Bostick drained the key shot against the Owls with a late three-pointer in the Bears' win at Westfield on February 2, while Barrett led Westfield with 24 points in the Owls road win on Jan. 12.
The long history between the two rivals includes a 97-95 double overtime win for Westfield in the 2017 semifinals, while the Bears were the last team to win a MASCAC title before the Owls current run, upsetting Westfield 60-57 in the 2015 title game at the Woodward Center.
The winner advances to Saturday's championship game, which will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed.