Worcester, MA --- Kelly Morgan (Brookline, NH) nailed a pair of 3-pointers to key a 10-0 run and the WPI defense held Worcester State without a field goal for over seven minutes late in the game as the Engineers defeated the Lancers 57-45 in the nightcap of the opening round of the 33rd annual Worcester City Women's Basketball Tournament at Clark on Friday night.
With the victory, the Engineers force a rematch of last year's title game with defending champion Clark. The two teams will tangle for the crown Saturday afternoon 3pm after Worcester State and Becker meet in the consolation game. Earlier Friday, the host Cougars defeated Becker 71-57.
With WPI clinging to a 35-34 advantage, Morgan, who had not connected on a field goal to that point, began the spurt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After Amaia Gritsko (Milford, CT) knocked home a pair of free throws, Morgan again hit from long range before Rachel Pineda (Shrewsbury, MA) closed the game-changing run with a driving layup. The closest the Lancers got the rest of the way was nine points on three different occasions.
WPI came out sizzling to start, draining seven of its first 13 shots and led by nine at 19-10 following a Gritsko layup with 10:32 remaining before intermission. The Worcester State defense stiffened, holding the Engineers to just 1-of-13 shooting the rest of the half, and the Lancers, fueled by six points each from Meagan Burns (West Brookfield, MA) and Julie Frankian (Millbury, MA) took a brief one point lead after Burns canned a pair of free throws with 90 seconds left in the half. The Crimson and Gray, however, took a 25-24 halftime lead into the locker room after Siena Mamayek (Melrose, MA) knocked down a pair of freebies with 3.4 seconds left.
Pineda led a balanced WPI attack with 12 points while Mamayek chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds and Gristsko added career-bests of 10 points and eight boards. Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) and Morgan ended with nine and eight points respectively while freshman Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) finished with five points and five rebounds of the bench.
Burns paced all scorers with 15 points for Worcester State. The senior also filled the stat sheets with game-highs of nine rebounds and four assists. Frankian also was in double digits in scoring with 10 points while Cheyenne Jennings (Worcester, MA) and Kiesha Jones (Worcester, MA) registered eight and seven respectively. Jones joined WPI's Mamayek with game-best honors in steals with three.