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Globe West Sports Notebook

Mosgrove shooting for title

KATY SALKA Wheaton senior KATY SALKA
Wheaton senior
By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / March 31, 2011

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As a senior captain on the women’s basketball team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cerie Mosgrove led the nation in 3-point shooting, connecting on nearly 50 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc.

The former Needham High standout’s collegiate career is not quite over, however.

Mosgrove will participate in the 23d annual State Farm College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championship, being held tonight in Houston, the site of the NCAA Division 1 men’s Final Four. Mosgrove is one of eight senior women invited to compete in the long-range contest, which will be televised on ESPN2 from 9 to 11 p.m.

“Getting more playing time as a starter this season got me into a rhythm with the 3-point shot and I became more confident as the season went on,’’ said the 6-foot Mosgrove, who made more starts as a senior (30) than her previous three seasons combined (23). “In past seasons, I was feeling more pressure because if I wasn’t hitting my shot, I would most likely be back on the bench. And starting every game this year also made the other parts of my game better, like rebounding and shooting percentage.’’

Mosgrove, who played center, forward, and shooting guard in her four seasons at UMass, said a 7-for-9 performance from 3-point land against Rhode Island in January got the ball rolling for her.

“Things just picked up after that, and I was definitely a different player this year than the previous three,’’ she said. “Before, I felt I was just in there to shoot threes. I could be hot or cold and I didn’t end last season with a lot of confidence. And I can also be pretty tough on myself.’’

Mosgrove, however, thrived under new head coach Sharon Dawley, setting program single-season records for 3-pointers made (78) and attempted (157) while averaging a career-best 13.6 points per game. Her 408 points and 195 rebounds were also career highs, and she also ranks third all-time for career 3-point field goals made (171) and career 3-point percentage (.390) for the Minutewomen.

“It seems so appropriate that Cerie is in the 3-point contest,’’ said Dawley. “Her family has told us great stories of when she was young she would not come in at night until she made 75 threes.

“She’s also one of the hardest-working student-athletes that I have had the pleasure to work with and the most coachable. Cerie would do anything for our program, and I cannot even put into words how much she will be missed,’’ Dawley said.

Mosgrove’s 1,002 minutes played this season nearly equaled her time spent on the court as a UMass freshman, sophomore, and junior. Last season, she shot a career low for 3-pointers — .290.

“I never would have imagined after last season that I would have such a turnaround,’’ added Mosgrove, whose parents, Robin (who played women’s hoop at Whittier College) and Peter, planned to join her in Houston.

“Since I got the news, I’ve been in with our coaching staff to chat and also been working on my shooting. But I’m trying not to overprepare and not going too far away from my usual routine’’ Mosgrove said.

“The best part is the support I’ve had around campus. It’s just a great ending to my college career and a surprise honor and an accomplishment. It makes all the time practicing those threes so worthwhile.’’

Strong start at short

Wheaton College senior shortstop Katy Salka of Ayer is making a strong case to repeat as a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference all-star selection.

Through 20 games, Salka was hitting a team-best .429 (24-for-56) with 5 doubles, a homer, and 15 runs batted in. Her two-run homer nearly rallied the Lyons to a win over Wellesley on Sunday.

“Katy’s always clutch with two outs, and pitchers can’t get anything by her at this point. If I had to choose a batter in a tough situation, she’s the one I’d want,’’ said Wheaton coach Rachael Powers, whose team was 11-9 entering today’s game at Rhode Island College.

Salka, who also had a .571 slugging percentage and .476 on-base percentage, went 4 for 7 on Saturday with a walk in a doubleheader loss against Coast Guard Academy ace Hayley Feindel, considered one of the best Division 3 pitchers in the nation.

“Katy’s battled injuries as a freshman and sophomore and has improved tremendously. She’s almost automatic at shortstop with her great arm and I expect her to keep on peaking as the season progresses,’’ added Powers. “At the plate, she’s just very smooth batting from the left side. She’s an old-school kind of player and I like that.

“She’s a quiet leader by example. Katy lets her play on the field speak for itself.’’

Here and there

MIT freshman Colby Dunn of Weston was the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year, and Springfield College senior Brooks Farrar of Medfield was selected Diver of the Year by the conference’s swimming and diving coaches. . . Bates College senior Micaela Holland of Belmont, the school’s only female skier to qualify for the NCAA’s Alpine competition this season, had a career-best 18th-place finish in her sixth and final race to cap off an impressive collegiate career. . . Hudson’s Corey McDonald, a senior shortstop on Worcester State University’s baseball team, batted .571 (8-for-14) with a homer, three doubles, and four RBIs to help the Lancers (8-4 through last weekend) win three of four games.

Marvin Pave’s e-mail is marvin.pave@rcn.com.