North Adams, MA- On Tuesday night, the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference (MASCAC) women's basketball championships will tip off as the sixth seeded MCLA Trailblazers will head to Worcester to face the third seeded Lancers at 5:30pm. The Trailblazers (9-15 overall) went 3-9 in the MASCAC this season, including a pair of setbacks to the Lancers. WSU went 12-13 on the season including an 8-4 mark in conference play.
The Lancers swept the season series from the Trailblazers winning 63-54 in North Adams back on January 4, while they took care of business at home defeating MCLA 55-51 on January 28. Both programs have had issues scoring at times this season as they rank 6th and 7th respectively in the conference in offense. Both teams average just about 60 points per game on offense.
With scoring being a challenge, both teams like to slow the tempo down and play defense. MCLA ranks second in the conference defensively while the Lancers are fourth. Both programs give up 61 points per game so if history repeats itself, this should be a low scoring playoff game.
In the first meeting in North Adams, the Lancers got solid performances from Brianna Hackett and Kaitlyn Berkel. Both ended with 17 points as Hackett connected on four three pointers while Berkel was 7-12 from the floor. Berkel continued her solid play in the rematch as she went for 16 points in the Lancer victory. Britt Herring added a double double of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the second contest.
Everything the Lancers do revolves around the trio of six footers in their starting lineup (Berkel, Herring, and Bianca Langford). Herring leads the team with just over 12 ppg with Berkel right behind at 11.7 pts a night. Langford is capable of producing a double double on any given night as well. Hackett is the team's top threat from three point range connecting on 48 three pointers in 2017. Off the bench, first year player Catherine Sweeney can be a tough matchup as she collects 4 assists a night in just 20 minutes of play per night.
For MCLA, everything will revolve around leading scorer and rebounder Kayla Hotaling. She is nearly averaging a double double with 13.3 points and 9.8 boards a night. She will need to be a presence on defense as well to limit the size of the Lancers. While Hotaling has seen some success against the Lancers, other Trailblazers will have to step up.
Courtney McLaughlin is the teams second leading scorer at 12 points per game and Emily Moulton is coming off a career high 18 point effort in a double overtime loss to Bridgewater on Saturday. Both will be counted on to offset the Lancer size. MCLA has struggled to shoot the ball against the bigger Lancers shooting at a 31% clip over the two games earlier this season.
The winner of the game will advance to the conference semifinals slated for Thursday night at #2 Framingham State. The game will be webcast on athletics.mcla.edu and updates provided on social media.