By Chris McLaughlin
Unable to put together any kind of run, the CCSU women’s basketball team fell to Sacred Heart 71-55 on senior night.
It was the final home game for the four Blue Devil seniors Kerrianne Dugan, Alexzandria Dowdy, Justina Udenze and Leanne Crockett, but only Udenze got anything done on the court.
Turnovers were costly in this one, as every time the Blue Devils (16-10) seemed poised to go on a run, it would give the ball right back to Sacred Heart (17-10). The team committed 27 in total and gave up 26 points in the process.
While Udenze had another monster game with 23 points and a career high 19 rebounds, she was a turnover shy from the kind triple-double you don’t want.
The Blue Devils led 6-4 at the 15:24 mark in the first half, but was the last time they would have the lead in a game where Sacred Heart controlled throughout.
“The hardest part was that we started the game with no intensity,” said Head Coach Beryl Piper. “Our defense has always been important, but they completely out-hustled us. Everything we work on everyday we didn’t do.”
CCSU struggled both offensively and defensively early on giving up 40 first-half points while not even cracking 30 themselves. If it wasn’t for the play of Udenze the game would have been over long before halftime. She had 12 in the first half, on a very efficient 6-9 shooting, and kept CCSU from being blown out.
“Justina did a nice job,” said Piper. “She scored a lot though I thought she could have scored more, but I can’t complain. She didn’t have a lot of help.”
Turnovers continued to haunt CCSU in the second half, preventing them from capitalizing on a better defensive performance.
Sacred Hearts field goal percentage dropped 20 while the Blue Devils put pressure on them. However, the Blue Devils didn’t fare much better shooting the ball. CCSU went 0-10 from beyond the arc and 8-26 from inside it. Even free throws had difficulty finding the bottom of the net, as only Jessica Babe shot above 50 percent.
Once again, Udenze was the source for the Blue Devils. Her 15 second-half rebounds gave the Blue Devils an opportunity, but the team couldn’t take advantage. She led the team with 11 second-half points, but only Babe did anything else offensively with six.
“We got stagnant and got caught watching a lot,” said Piper. “We played as bad as we could have played. 2-16 for three is just horrible, our 56 percent from the foul line is horrible, we’re not going to win games doing that.”
Sacred Heart lead by as many as 17, but the Blue Devils were able to trim it to single digits. The Blue Devils seemed to gain momentum once the lead was back to single digits, but every time it got a big stop, CCSU gave the ball right back. Fifteen second half turnovers prevented the miracle comeback.
At the two minute mark, the Blue Devils began intentionally fouling on every Sacred Heart possession to stop the clock. Had Sacred Heart missed the free throws, CCSU would have stood a chance. Sacred Heart did not miss the free throws and ended up padding the lead and its players stats.
“They seemed quicker than us getting steals and getting rebounds. Are they quicker than us or did we just not come ready to play? I think we didn’t come ready to play,” said Piper.
With the loss, the Blue Devils have sealed its fate in the NEC tournament. While not locked in seventh place, the Blue Devils will not have a home court game in the tournament unless the top four teams get knocked off early.
One game remains on the schedule for the Blue Devils when the women travel to Long Island on Saturday.