by Daniel Fappiano
As Central Connecticut looks to climb their way into the postseason, the Blue Devils split a pair of games against Northeast Conference rivals.
Early in the week, Central took on the Colonials of Robert Morris in a losing effort, falling 66-47. The 47 points marked the fewest CCSU has scored since their late November match-up with Morgan State where they scored 41.
For the Blue Devils, senior Morgan Johnson led the team with 11 points and hit three of the team’s ten three-pointers. Ashley Berube led the team in rebounds with six, while Kiana Patterson held her own with five assists.
As for Robert Morris, three different players scored in double figures, with senior Megan Smith scoring 22. Nneka Ezeigbo hauled in 10 rebounds to give herself a double-double while Honoka Ikematsu led the team in assists with eight.
Central turned the ball over 16 times and was out rebounded 42-32. However, their biggest problem came on the offensive end as they shot a measly 29.4 percent from the field. The Blue Devils weren’t able to score more than 13 in any quarter against the Colonials.
While they struggled against Robert Morris, Central was able to right their wrongs on Saturday, in a 73-71 win against Sacred Heart; the win marked Central’s third of the season and their first on the road. The 73 points are the most CCSU has scored in a game this year.
Patterson scored a career-high 25 points, hitting five of six three-pointers in the process. Andi Lydon led Central in both rebounds and assists with eight and five, respectively.
For Sacred Heart, Candice Leatherwood led her team with 20 points scored and eight assists while Katherine Hines grabbed 12 rebounds.
Though Patterson’s 25 points may be the most impressive number in the box score, it was the play of freshman Tiffany Slicklein that tells the real story. With just 8.6 seconds left in the game, Slicklein hit a three-pointer in the corner, her first score of the game, putting Central ahead for good.
Following the game, Head Coach Beryl Piper talked about Slicklein’s heroics.
“I’m so happy for her,” Piper said. “Just confidence-wise, she feels so great right now, her teammates are so excited for her, that’s a gutsy play.”
The Blue Devils also proved that they have the composure to stay strong at the end of games. One week prior, against LIU Brooklyn, Central watched a big lead go to waste as the Blackbirds ended the game on a 16-1 run.
However, against the Pioneers the Blue Devils didn’t give up, something Piper credited to her team’s focus and unselfishness.
“I think the kids are coming out, even in the timeouts, they’re saying the right things so they know what they have to do,” Piper said. “Honestly, I just think that our kids didn’t panic, and we executed offense down the wire and everybody played together, it wasn’t like one person trying to get it done all by themselves.”
Central certainly didn’t play a perfect game against Sacred Heart. Their 16 turnovers matched their total from their match-up with Robert Morris and the 71 points allowed marked their eighth straight game with at least 60 points allowed. But nonetheless, Piper was ecstatic to just come away with a win.
“Oh my God, are you kidding me? Any win is great when you haven’t been winning,” Piper said. “I’m so happy for the kids, they have just been fighting and working and having a good attitude throughout all this losing, you want them to win so badly.”
Central will look to continue their winning ways when they take on Farleigh Dickinson at home on Monday night. Though they may only have three wins, their most recent clearly boosted morale and could be the item necessary to sneak into the NEC tournament.