UNION, N.J. -- Western Connecticut State, behind 18-point performances from senior Melissa Teel and Karli Spera, defeated Messiah College 65-44 in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championships at Harwood Arena on the campus of Kean University on Friday night.

WestConn advances to play the winner of the Kean/Vassar first-round game on Saturday night at 6 p.m. at the Cougars' arena.

The Colonials, now 24-3 and one win away from the Sweet 16 and a school-record 25 wins, shot 54 percent (26 of 48) from the field. Spera connected on 8 of 12 attempts while Teel hit 7 of 13 shots.

During the first stanza, Spera scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. She buried both of her attempts from beyond the arc. Teel added nine markers, grabbed six rebounds and had five blocked shots before the recess.

The Colonials raced out to an 11-6 lead following back-to-back lay-ins by Teel. The second came from a swift pass from Stephanie Slonski from the corner into the paint.

WestConn built a 10-point lead on three difference occasions, the final time came when Teel hit the back end of two free throws with four seconds left before intermission.

After a lay-in by freshman Sciarra Brandt 47 seconds into the second half, the Colonials held a double-digit advantage the rest of the way. She finished a perfect 5 of 5 from the floor with all 11 of her points coming in the second half.

Teel, the two-time Little East Conference Player of the Year, led all players with 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Messiah, which lost to Lebanon Valley in the Commonwealth Conference Tournament title game, ended the season at 19-8.

The Falcons were led by Dori Gyori with 11 points. She was one of three players to collect a trio of rebounds as the Colonials controlled the boards, allowing just 16 caroms out of their grasp. Nicky Hess added eight points for Messiah.