NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Westfield State got 36 points from Melissa Gray (Peabody, Mass.) as the Owls launched a school record 72 three-point tries as the Owls topped Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 96-72 in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference game at the Amsler Campus Center Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Westfield State improves to 5-1 in the MASCAC and 8-11 overall. MCLA slips to 2-15 and 0-6 in the league.
Westfield ran out to an early 14-5 lead, but the Blazers trimmed the lead down to 18-16 by the end of the first quarter.
Westfield led 49-37 at the half behind 20 points from Gray, who connected on 6-12 three pointers in the half. Westfield used a 15-0 run midway through the quarter to take control of the game, turning a 22-21 deficit into a 36-22 lead, capped by a Jordan Halgas (Ware, Mass.) layup.
Kaylah Langston paced MCLA with 11 in the first half.
MCLA trimmed the Owls lead to 8, 57-49 before back to back threes from Gray boosted the lead back to 14, 63-49 with 5:02 left in the third, forcing a time out from MCLA head coach Loren Stock.
Gray cooled off from three-point range, missing seven straight after opening 8-15 from behind the arc, but the Owls led 78-58 heading to the fourth quarter. Westfield kept the lead around the 20-point mark throughout the final frame.
The Owls set a school record with 72 three point attempts in the game, demolishing the previous record of 56 set last season and matched earlier this year. Westfield finished 34-110 from the floor and 17-72 from three point range. Westfield came up with 31 steals while forcing 41 MCLA turnovers.
Gray led Westfield with 36 points, one off her career best, while finishing 12-31 shooting and 9-25 from long range. Halgas added 12 points and six rebounds, with Alison Mendel (Hoosac/Adams, Mass.) added 11. Chelsea Moussette (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire) finished with eight points, eight steals and six assists.
MCLA was led by 23 points from Brooke DiGennaro, who connected on 8 of 13 shots and 3-4 from three-point land, and 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists from Langston. Erika Ryan blocked nine shots and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Blazers.
The Owls win sets up a showdown with Framingham State on Saturday for the top spot in the conference standings and the inside track on the number 1 seed for the conference tournament. The Rams topped Westfield 101-91 in the previous meeting between the two teams. Tip-off is set for 1:00 at the Framingham Athletics and Recreation Center.