Four months ago, the Framingham State women’s basketball team opened their season with a 91-41 victory.
Now, they are MASCAC Champions.
After winning 21 games, including 14 straight, and going undefeated in their conference, the Rams took on Worcester State in the MASCAC Championship game at home.
The Athletic Center’s gym was stuffed from wall-to-wall with fans. So many that people struggled to find a place to sit and had to settle for the floor.
“The gym was absolutely packed, and the environment was something I have never been a part of prior to Saturday. We have had such a huge group of supporters this year and that really showed on Saturday,” senior captain Mary Kate O’Day said. “You don’t usually see a gym that full for a women’s basketball game, so for that many people to come and support us made it so amazing.”
Even the Rams’ bench got involved as they would hop in an imaginary rowboat on the floor and row away after a teammate nailed a three.
The game was back and forth through two quarters, and anyone’s to win.
That was until O’Day got her hands on the ball and dropped 16 points on Worcester’s head for the remaining two quarters.
This led to a 66-51 championship victory for Framingham.
“I was in shock and couldn’t believe that we actually won. At the same time, I was so unbelievably excited and ecstatic,” O’Day said. “I really just could not believe we did it. I could barely contain my excitement and I couldn’t help but smile while I was watching the clock countdown from 10 seconds.”
O’Day was named Tournament MVP afterwards by recording 48 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and four steals through the two games the team played.
“Saturday was one of the best days of my life. Winning the championship is something that we have all been working so hard for all season long. As for winning the MVP, it was pretty cool, but it does not even compare to winning the championship,” O’Day said. “Winning it my senior year makes it that much more special. Knowing that Saturday could have been the last time I ever put on a basketball uniform made myself and the two other seniors want to win it that much more, and it made the feeling of winning so much better.”
The other two seniors are Emily Velozo and Julia Sanborn.
Velozo had 30 points in the tournament and has been a part of the three-headed juggernaut on the team all year.
“Holding that trophy was a feeling of a lifetime. It felt like all the hard work had finally paid off. It was unreal,” Velozo said. “Celebrating afterwards with the team was awesome. Each player, one by one, cutting off a piece of the net was surreal.”
But one of the best stories of the game, and of the season as a whole, is the third-head of the juggernaut.
Freshman Flannery O’Connor stepped in and produced from day one, and it led to her scoring 34 points and pulling down 24 rebounds in the tournament.
“This has been the best possible freshman year I could have ever imagined,” O’Connor said. “My favorite part of Saturday was getting to see the seniors celebrate. They are the reason we all wanted it so badly. Those girls really deserved to be champions, so seeing it actually happen and seeing them so happy is something I will never forget.”
Flannery also earned MASCAC Rookie of the Year after earning Rookie of the Week ten times and NEWBA Rookie of the Week two times. She led the conference in field goal percentage (57%) and was top five in blocked shots and rebounds. She also was named to the All-MASCAC second team.
Both O’Day and Velozo were named to the All-MASCAC first team.
Velozo led the league in three-point percentage (44.1%) and was top five in points and field goal percentage.
O’Day was second in the league in rebounds, points per game and three-point percentage. She earned her third straight All-MASCAC first team honor and was named MASCAC Player of the Year for the second time in her career.
But now, the team that won a school program record 22 games, focuses its attention on their very first NCAA appearance in program history.
They will take on UMass Amherst in the first round of the NCAA Div. III Tournament.
“We’re all very excited, and it will be an experience of a lifetime,” O’Day said. “We are playing Amherst, who is a pretty tough team, but we’re going to do our best and leave it all out on the court.”