Women's Basketball Bests Southern Maine to Reach Westfield State Tournament Final

Lisa Mendez

Westfield, MA --- Senior forward Dani Davis scored 14 points to lead WPI, as the Engineers hung on for a 49-44 win over the University of Southern Maine in the opening round of the Westfield State Holiday Tournament at the Woodward Center on Monday night.

 WPI improved to 7-2 on the season with the win, and will face host Westfield State in the championship game tomorrow at 3pm.  Southern Maine drops to 6-4 overall and will face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the consolation game at 1:00 p.m.  Westfield State defeated RPI 75-43 in the other opening round game. 

The game proved to be a defensive struggle with USM shooting 37 percent from the floor while turning the ball over 24 times.  WPI shot just 34.5 percent from the floor and 3-18 from three-point range. 

Davis, a native of nearby East Granby, Conn., tallied a game-high 14 points on 6-20 shooting from the floor.  Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, NY) added 11 points for the Engineers while Rachel Pineda (Shrewsbury, MA) tossed in nine and Amaia Gritsko (Milford, CT) corralled a game-best seven boards. 

WPI managed an early first half lead and led 27-25 at the half. 

Southern Maine tied the game at 38-all with 6:21 left in regulation on a Jill Madden (North Andover, MA) jumper.  WPI responded with a Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) layup and then sandwiched a jumper and a 3-pointer from Davis around an old-fashioned three-point play by Southern Maine's Megan Pelletier (Winslow, ME) to give WPI a 45-41 with 3:45 to play. 

The Huskies faltered in the key stretch that followed.  WPI forced a held ball with possession returning to the Huskies, then Southern Maine missed a shot and got their own offensive rebound, and then on the ensuing possession WPI forced a shot clock violation.  Nearly a minute and a half burned off the clock without USM getting any closer on the scoreboard.   The Engineers hit four of six free throws in the last 29 seconds of the contest to seal the win. 

Stephanie Gallagher (York, ME) led USM with 12 points and five assists. Pelletier added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Release Courtesy Westfield State Sports Information