WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Senior Forbasaw Nkamebo (Amherst/Amherst, Mass.) scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to propel Westfield State to an 85-48 in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament at the Woodward Center on Thursday evening.
Top-seeded Westfield improves to 19-7 and will host second-seeded Framingham State, a 67-62 winner over Bridgewater State tonight, in the MASCAC Championship game on Saturday at 1:00 on Saturday. The league champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national championship tournament.
The Owls jumped out of the gate quickly, getting a steal from Jill Valley (Mahar/Orange, Mass.) on the opening possession of the game and quickly scoring a layup at the other end.
Westfield forced five MCLA turnovers in the first 3:47 of play. Westfield punctuated the smothering defensive pressure with a huge block from Nkamebo, on which Valley scooped up the loose ball rebound, and scampered coast to coast for a layup and a 18-2 Owls lead early.
Westfield led 25-6 at the end of the 1st quarter, and 47-14 at the half.
Valley, the MASCAC player of the year, had an uncharacteristically quiet scoring game, finishing with nine points but registering seven steals and four assists. The Owls got a balanced scoring effort, with Kirsy Segarra (Holyoke/Holyoke, Mass.) scoring 11 points as the only other Owl in double figures. Rebecca Sapouckey (Granby/Chicopee, Mass.) added eight points and seven rebounds. Kierra McCarthy (Ludlow/Ludlow, Mass.) scored seven for the Owls, who had 15 of 16 players who dressed for the game score.
Westfield forced 38 MCLA turnovers in the game. In a statistical curiosity, MCLA turned the ball over 20 times in the decisive first half without recording and assist. 12 of the Trailblazers 14 first-half points came on second chance tries.
MCLA completes its season at 14-13. The Trailblazers were led by 11 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots from Kayla Hotaling (RCS/Ravena, N.Y.) who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. McKenzie Robinson (Hoosac Valley/Adams, Mass.) scored eight points for the Blazers while Samantha Gawron (South Hadley/South Hadley, Mass.) added seven.