By Sean Begin
Controversy clung to the final seconds of Central Connecticut women’s basketball’s 53-52 home victory against the University of New Hampshire.
Central (2-2) had won their last four meetings against the Wildcats (2-2) coming into the game, but needed every second to pull out the win.
New Hampshire’s Corinne Coia went for a layup with three seconds left on the clock and the game tied at 52. Central’s Lauren Arbogast, a senior, came down with the rebound and drew a foul call from the referee with just one second remaining.
The call brought cries of outrage from the UNH bench, whole felt Coia had been hit hard and fouled in her attempt to go for the layup. Instead, Arbogast went to the line needing to hit just one of her free throws to give Central the game. She missed the first.
“I asked her if she wanted me to call another timeout,” said Coach Beryl Piper. “She said no. She was confident. She wanted to shoot them. I think in those instances you’re probably going to make one.”
Luckily, Arbogast hit the second free throw; enough to give Central the win over New Hampshire for the fifth straight meeting.
“Arbo hitting that free throw was huge. That just shows composure, mental toughness,” said senior Jessica Babe. “She always seems to come around at the right time. It show’s a little bit of toughness.”
New Hampshire went on a 16-3 run during the last eight minutes of play to set up the tie game scenario at the end. The three came from Arbogast, who had been cold all night from the floor, and stopped a 12-0 run by the Wildcats to give Central a 52-48 lead at the time.
“I honestly feel like we should have not been in that situation at all. It shouldn’t have been there,” said Babe of fending off the comeback. “When we’re up 10, that’s when you have to close it out. We just got too comfortable, start making defensive mistakes.”
Babe led the Blue Devils, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double, to go along with four assists and a steal. Sophomore TeJahne Malone was the only other Blue Devil player to break double digit points, putting up 11 to go with five rebounds.
“For us, we’re really lucky tonight that TeJahne played as well as TeJahne played,” said Piper after the game. “She made some big buckets and got some great offensive rebounds to get us some second shots when we needed them.”
The Blue Devils went on a 12-2 run in the middle of the second before giving up the 12 unanswered points to New Hampshire. The first half was a back and forth tug of war match between the two teams with the game tied at 25 headed to the locker room.
Central went down by six to start the game but clawed back and exchanged leads all half with the Wildcats, twice tying the game before the break on baskets from Malone.
Women’s Basketball Steals One On Last Second Free Throw
By Sean Begin