The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

WSU Women’s Basketball’s Dominant Streak Ends


All good things must come to end.

For four straight years, the Westfield State women’s basketball team has been one of the most dominant teams in MASCAC sports. Four consecutive MASCAC championships, four straight NCAA tournament bids, and multiple records shattered.

Unfortunately, on Thursday February 28th, the streak came to an end as the Owls lost their MASCAC semi-final matchup to the Worcester State Lancers 90-75. This marks the first time since 2015 that the Owls will not appear in the conference championship.

Similar to other famous sports dynasties like the 1950s and 60s Boston Celtics and the 2000s New England Patriots, many are stunned to see the queens of the MASCAC knocked off of their throne. But there should also be a point to look back and understand just how incredible of a run the Owls went from the mid-2010s to now.

It starts with dynamic play-style head coach Andrea Bertini adopted the “Grinnell System,” but those around Westfield refer to it as “The System.” This style of play sees a full-rotation of substitutions every forty-five seconds give-or-take which allows players to go “all-out” and exude maximum effort for that short period of time. “The System” also enforces heavy pressure defensively for the full-court which creates turnovers and open the floor on offense. After a conference championship loss to Bridgewater State in 2015, Bertini implemented “The System” and won the MASCAC championship the following season and never looked back.

Over their four championship seasons, the Owls have set numerous school records and even earned NCAA recognition multiple times. Including this past season, the Owls led the nation in steals and/or steals-per-game five times, turnovers and/or turnover margin four times, three-pointers twice, and were ranked in the top three for points-per-game the last five seasons (including the top team twice). School records were shattered in offensive and defensive categories in both a single game and in a season like points, field-goals, and three-pointers just to name a few.

What also shouldn’t be overlooked are the historical feats many players put up while playing in “The System.” Former players like Jill Valley, Rebecca Sapouckey, and Lucy Barrett helped vault the program into success while current players such as Chelsea Moussette and Melissa Gray continued the dominance into the next decade. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, five players have eclipsed 1,000 career points for the women’s basketball program.

Some of the most incredible individual performances have occurred during this magical run like Jill Valley scoring a school-record 52 points followed by 39 points to win the 2017 MASCAC championship. There was the time when Lucy Barrett led the Owls to a victory in the Woodward Center over 25th-ranked Middlebury College in 2019. Even history was made earlier this season when Melissa Gray set a new school-record for three-pointers made with 10 on the same night she scored her 1,000th career point and a career-high 37 points. The many moments during this run are very hard to try and reimagine in one sitting.

Many could wonder if this is the end of the dynasty or just a bump in the road, but Westfield State women’s basketball has put themselves on the map of historic teams in all of college sports.

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