by Patrick Gustavson
Central Connecticut’s women’s basketball team broke through for their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon against Wagner, by the score of 59-56.
“To get the monkey off the back is amazing,” said head coach Beryl Piper. “There was so much pressure on us not winning. Every time we would lose you could just feel more pressure. I know we were feeling it as coaches, so I’m sure they (the players) were feeling it.”
Andi Lydon led the way for the Blue Devils with 16 points, thanks in part for going 4-5 from beyond the arc. “She was down, and I think she needed to have a good night. She made big shots and her teammates found her in big spots,” said Piper.
Senior and team co-captain Brianna Jacobs had the best game of her career at Central, tallying a career-high 14 points on 5-9 shooting, with two threes to boot, all while coming off the bench. “It feels really great,” said Jacobs. “Looking at my past career, it’s been hard. But today just so happened to be the day.”
Perhaps where Jacobs had the biggest impact was in the paint, securing seven rebounds, with six of them being on offense. “Sierra Clarke is a really good rebounder for them, so for her to come in and be as aggressive as she was, was really important,” said Piper, on Jacobs’ performance.
In addition to Jacobs’ strong performance, the team’s bench players contributed 31 of the 59 total, much to the pleasure of Piper. “We had 31 points from our bench, and nine different kids scored,” she said.
It was a strong first half for the team, who led at the break for the first time all season. But Piper believes the turning point of the game was the third quarter, where the team shot 53 percent from the floor, making seven baskets.
Entering the forth quarter, the game had all the makings of Friday’s game against Mt. St. Mary’s, where the Blue Devils were shut down by the Mountaineers, only managing seven points for the entire period. But things went differently for the team on Saturday, outscoring the Seahawks 16-9, clinching the four-point victory.
Piper believes confidence led to the team’s improved play late in the game, saying: “I just think we had more confidence in ourselves, and the kids really had fight. We took care of the ball. We made better decisions and weren’t trying to force things. These kids wanted it so bad.”
Despite now being just 1-12 on the season, the Blue Devils are now 1-1 in Northeast Conference play. When asked her perspective on her team’s record, Piper said: “We’re 1-1. For us it’s going into the new year with a win and it’s the same thing, we just have to come and battle every single night.”
Piper praised her players for maintaining a positive attitude despite the struggles, and hopes the win will only provide them with more confidence. “Even though we lost, they still came in with pretty positive attitudes. They weren’t moping and whining. I wanted them to win so bad for them, they’re such good kids, and I’m just so happy,” she said.
The Blue Devils will travel to Bryant on Saturday, looking for their second straight victory.