WORCESTER, Mass. - Junior Catherine Sweeney (Lowell, Mass.) recorded her third triple-double of the season on Thursday night, lifting the Worcester State University women's basketball team to an 81-64 victory over Framingham State in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament at John P. Brissette Court.
With the win, the Lancers advance to the MASCAC Championship for the first time since 2010, and will host the championship game for the first time in program history. The Lancers will play Westfield State, who defeated Bridgewater State 94-85 in other MASCAC Semifinal action Thursday night. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.
Worcester State improves to 20-6 with the victory, giving the Lancers their first 20-win season since the 1980-81 season, a season in which the Lancers advanced to the Final Four.
In the opening five minutes of the contest, the teams traded baskets, until Worcester State took over. With Worcester State up 10-8 midway through the quarter, the Lancers closed out the period on a 14-4 run to end the quarter ahead 24-12. Sweeney scored eight points and grabbed nine boards in the first quarter alone to help the Lancers jump out to the big lead.
Worcester State scored the first six points of the second quarter to go ahead by a score of 30-12, but Framingham State wouldn't go down quietly, as junior Mary Kate O'Day (Berlin, Mass.) stopped the bleeding with her first of three triples in the quarter. The teams went to the locker room with Worcester State on top 41-25.
Neither team held a decisive territorial advantage in the third quarter, but Worcester State's sharp shooting continued to make an impact as the Lancers headed to the fourth ahead 65-44. Sweeney and senior Kaitlyn Berkel (Waterford, Conn.) each had six points in the quarter as the Lancers led big going to the fourth.
A fast break lay-in by senior Brittany Herring (West Brookfield, Mass.) just over a minute into the fourth quarter secured Sweeney's third triple-double of the season, as Sweeney recorded her 10th assist of the night on the play. She entered the game as one of just two players in Division III women's basketball with multiple triple-doubles this season, and now becomes the first with three.
Framingham State would go on to outscore Worcester State 20-16 in the fourth quarter, but the damage was already done, as the Lancers closed out the 81-64 win to advance to the championship.
Sweeney was Worcester's leading scorer on the evening with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting, as well as adding 16 boards and 11 assists for the triple-double. Herring finished with a double-double for Worcester State, tallying 16 points and 11 boards. All five starters were in double figures for the Lancers, as senior Kate Surprenant (Pelham, N.H.) tallied 17, Berkel 11, and sophomore Colleen Cutting (Auburn, Mass.) 10.
Framingham State was paced by O'Day, who finished with 26 points to lead all players. Junior Emily Velozo (Tewksbury, Mass.) tallied 12 points, while senior Tiphani Harris (Revere, Mass.) contributed eight points, six rebounds, and two blocks.