by Daniel Fappiano
Following a regular season in which they lost 18 of their first 20 games, Central Connecticut’s women’s basketball team was able to bounce back and earn a spot in the Northeast Conference Tournament.
After splitting their two previous games, CCSU’s playoff hopes looked rocky, following a 67-51 loss to RMU to open the week. Central played strong in the first half against one of the NEC’s top teams, only facing a five-point halftime deficit. However, they were unable to carry their momentum into the second half, scoring just nine points in the third quarter and being outscored 32-21 overall to come away with the loss.
Freshman Emma McCamus led the team in scoring with 13 points off the bench and Denisha Gardener grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Ashley Forker and Sydney Hines each had two assists a piece. The 51 points scored are the lowest Central had scored since their last match-up with the Colonials in late January.
For the Colonials, Nina Augustin led the way with 14 points while Mikalah Mulrain pulled down eight boards and Megan Smith dished out two assists. Laura Carrasco was able to come away with a team-high five steals.
Following the game, head coach Beryl Piper expressed how her team needed to improve as they finished out the regular season.
“I was happy [with] our defensive integrity, they made some tough shots. I wasn’t disappointed defensively. On offense, we just struggled trying to find a way to score,” Piper said. “Now, we’ve got to go on the road and try to find a way to score and get ourselves into the tournament.”
Despite the loss, Piper stated how she thought her team had the ability to improve as they attempted to make the tournament.
“Kids are upset, they’re hurting and that’s good because that means they believe they can beat them,” Piper said. “I’m hoping we get into the tournament and we get a chance to play them again because I think we’ll do better.”
As Piper predicted, the Blue Devils were able to improve as they bounced back to defeat St. Francis (BKN) 83-77 in a crucial match-up. Central started out hot and held a 17-4 lead after the first quarter. However, the Terriers were able to come back, scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter and forcing overtime. In OT, CCSU was able to outscore SFBK 16-10 to win the hotly contested match-up. This game marked the first time all season that Central had a game go to overtime.
Central had five different players in double figures with Morgan Johnson leading the way, scoring a career-high 18 points, including a career-high six three-pointers. Andi Lydon had a double-double with 15 points and a team-high 13 rebounds, while also leading the team in assists with seven. As a team, CCSU hit a season-high 13 three-pointers while shooting 48.2 percent from the field, also a season-best.
For the Terriers, four different players scored in double figures, with Maria Palarino scoring a team-high 25. Abby Anderson had eight rebounds while Amy O’Neil had 10 assists.
The win against the Terriers proved crucial as CCSU fell to LIU Brooklyn 63-57 in the regular season finale. Despite the loss, with Sacred Heart and Farleigh Dickinson also losing, the Blue Devils clinched a spot in the NEC tournament for the fourth year in a row.
Patterson scored a team-high 26 points while Lydon pulled down seven boards. Three different players had three assists. With eight threes in the game, Patterson broke the CCSU all-time record for most three-pointers in a season.
For LIU Brooklyn, DeAngelique Waite led the way, leading her team in points, rebounds and assists with 21, 16 and four, respectively.
The Blue Devils will now head to the NEC Tournament as the seventh seed and take on second-seeded Robert Morris.