WORCESTER -- Maura Buckley (Melrose, MA) led all scorers with 12 points and Maddie Blake (Bedford, NH) was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor on her way to 11 points as WPI opened its season with a 65-27 victory Friday evening over Becker in the semifinals of the 2017 Worcester City Women's Basketball Tournament hosted by Clark.
The Engineers, who are in search of their fourth straight tournament crown, will face Worcester State (2-0) on Saturday at 3pm for the title. Earlier Friday the Lancers defeated host Clark (1-1) 82-75 in the other semifinal. The Cougars will play Becker (1-1) in the consolation game at 1pm.
WPI never trailed, but after scoring just six seconds in on a Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) free throw and racing out to a 7-0 advantage, the Crimson and Gray only led 14-12 at the end of the first quarter. Becker displayed balanced scoring in the opening 10 minutes as Cassidy Harrison (Foxboro, MA), Ciara McKissick (Charlton, MA), Sarah Ware (Oakham, MA), Mariah Triplett (Coral Springs, FL), Jazlyn Contreras (Pawtucket, RI) and Kelsey Maynard (Millville, MA) all accounted for baskets.
The WPI defense stiffened in the middle two quarters and outscored the Hawks 43-14 over the 20 minutes stretch to put the game out of hand. The Engineers shot a blistering 62.1% (18-of-29) over the middle two quarters while holding the Hawks to just 21.1% (4-of-19). Buckley was the star of the second stanza, connecting on all three of her shots while Blake drained all four of her bids in the third quarter.
Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) aided the WPI effort with eight points, all in the first half. Brittney Lambert (Hudson, NH), Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY) and Alana Keating (Leominster, MA) all added six points with Lambert's total coming on a pair of 3-pointers as the Engineers connected on 6-of-14 (42.9) of their efforts from downtown. Buckley also posted a game-high in rebounds with six while Greenalch doled out a game and career-best eight assists to go along with four steals.
Ware and Erin Gaudette (Spencer, MA) paced Becker with five points each while Harrison corralled a team-high four rebounds.