Westfield State's women's basketball team's lucky number might be four.
The Owls won the MASCAC championship this past Saturday against Worcester State for their fourth year in a row. Also, this is the fourth year in a row Westfield has earned the automatic bid in the NCAA Division III national championship tournament. The Owls will be making their seventh NCAA appearance in school history.
The Owls are paired up to face Mount Saint Mary College (N.Y.) in the first round in Gettysburg, PA on Friday March 1 with tip off at 5:30 pm.
The game sets up as a contrast in pace, as the Owls lead the nation at more than 88 points per game, while Mount Saint Mary Knights rank 11th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 49.1 points per game and are fifth in field goal percentage defense at 30.4 percent allowed.
Westfield (18-9) has been led all year long by seniors Lucy Barrett and Kierra McCarthy. Barrett leads the team in points per game with 19.2, and rebounds per game with 5.2. She helped Westfield claim its fourth MASCAC title in a row, as she was named Tournament MVP with 20 points and six rebounds against Worcester State. Barrett finished as the leading scorer in the MASCAC, and is the top free throw shooter in Owls history.
McCarthy is third on the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and second on the team in rebounding with 4.9 rebounds a game. In the MASCAC championship game, McCarthy led the team in scoring with 22 points off the bench and grabbed seven rebounds.
Throughout the year the Owls also got help from sophomore Melissa Gray and junior Chelsea Moussette. Gray, one of the top three point shooters in the nation, is second on the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game and third on the team in rebounding with 4.2 rebounds a game. Moussette chipped in this year with seven points a game and leads the team with 5.3 assists a game.
Westfield leads the nation in nine categories, including points per game, three point attempts, steals, turnovers forced, and turnover margin.
The Knights of Mount St. Mary (22-5) are led by senior Kayla Cleare and sophomore Katie Smith. Cleare was the Skyline Conference Player of the Year and leads the Knights in scoring with 12.4 points per game and second on the team in rebounds with 8.6. Smith, a second-team All-Skyline pick, is second on the team in scoring with 10.3 points per game and averages 2.3 rebounds a game.
Mount Saint Mary College is a 2,500-student liberal arts college located in Newburgh, New York in the Hudson Valley region. Mount Saint Mary will be making its 14th appearance in the national tournament and its first appearance in the tournament since 2011-2012.
This will be the first meeting between Westfield State and Mount Saint Mary.
The other side of the bracket features Gettysburg (Pa.) College and Christopher Newport (Va.) University.
Gettysburg College (22-5) is led by senior Emma Dorshimer who leads the team in points per game with 16.9 and second on the team in rebounding with 5.9 rebounds a game. Junior Ashley Gehrin has chipped in with 12 points a game which is good enough for second on the team. Gettysburg received an at large bid for the tournament after finishing as the regular season champion in the Centennial Conference.
Christopher Newport (23-5) is led by junior Kiana Kirkland and senior Jessica Daguilh. Kirkland leads the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Daguilh is second on team with 10.6 points per game and leads the team in rebounds with 7.1 rebounds per game. Christopher Newport University won the Capital Athletic Conference championship to earn the league's automatic berth.
The winner of the Owls-Knights game will advance to the second round and play the winner of Gettysburg College and Christopher Newport on Saturday March 2 at Gettysburg at 6:00pm.
The tickets to the games Friday and Saturday at Gettysburg will be seven dollars for adults and four dollars for students, children, and senior citizens.