by Patrick Gustavson
Following a tough non-conference schedule that saw Central Connecticut State University’s women’s basketball team fail to win a game, the team has turned things around, winning two of their first four games in the Northeast Conference.
The Blue Devils struggled in a non-conference schedule that saw them take on major conference opponents such as Virginia, West Virginia, and Penn State. However, thanks to the turnaround, the team is right in the thick of things in the NEC.
Following a tough loss against Mount St. Mary’s to open conference play, the Blue Devils got their coveted first win of the season against Wagner.
“To get that monkey off our back is amazing,” Head Coach Beryl Piper said following the victory.
The team then had a strong showing at Bryant, where their lead was as much as 11, but were unable to hold on.
The team faced the same situation against Sacred Heart on Saturday, leading by 13 following the third quarter. Though the Pioneers made things interesting in the closing minutes, cutting a 16-point lead to seven, the Blue Devils were able to hang on for a 69-59 victory, bringing them back to .500 in the conference.
When asked what was the difference between Saturday’s game and the game against Bryant, Piper said that “a lot of the games that we’ve played, when a team goes on a little run, we freak out and lose our composure. We have to keep our heads [up]. And I thought we did that today.”
A source of success for the team has been contributions from players up and down the roster. Leading scorer Kiana Patterson has continued to play well, tallying a game-high 21 points against SHU, clinching the game by making nine of ten free throws.
Strong performances have also come from unlikely sources. In their first victory, senior forward Brianna Jacobs scored a career-high 14 points. Freshman guard Emma McCamus has come on strong in the last two games, reaching double figures, and even led the team in scoring against Bryant.
Perhaps the most surprising performance came against SHU, where freshman center Ashley Berube stuffed the stats sheet, scoring eight points (on 4-6 shooting), while adding nine rebounds, two assists and four blocks.
“She was phenomenal,” Piper said of Berube. “It helps, because if we make mistakes, we have a bigger body down there. I thought she rebounded the ball so much better—we’ve been asking her to do that. I thought she made really good decisions.”
Piper and her team are not looking too far ahead in the schedule, rather taking things one game at a time, saying, “It’s not even looking ahead. Let’s look at today’s win, then refocus tomorrow and think about what we have to do in the next game.”
In a matter of four games, the Blue Devils have gone from one of the few winless teams in the country, to a contender in the NEC.