by Daniel Fappiano
Central Connecticut’s women’s basketball lost a hard-fought battle against Robert Morris in the first round of the Northeast Conference Tournament 60-54. With the loss, a season in which the Blue Devils began the year 0-13 yet rallied to go 7-12 in conference play has come to a close.
Despite losing, Central played their strongest game against the Colonials all season. In their two regular-season match-ups, RMU won by a combined 35 points. Head Coach Beryl Piper was impressed with how her team prepared and executed in a tough environment.
“This was the NEC tournament, and you know the players will be extra pumped up to win. We knew going into the game that we needed to shoot the three-ball well to beat them,” Coach Piper said.
Leading the way for the Blue Devils was junior Andi Lydon who had 16 points and 10 rebounds, earning her fourth double-double of the season.
Junior Kiana Patterson was also a major factor, hitting 16 points of her own with a team-high five assists. Both players made four threes. Freshman Ashley Berube played strong defense and added eight points and seven rebounds of her own.
Throughout the game, Central seemed to be getting stronger and stronger. Rather than showing fatigue, CCSU kept improving; they increased their scoring output every quarter. Coach Piper credited this to her team’s heart and willingness to fight.
“We told the players to keep shooting the ball with confidence, and our scoring improved each quarter,” Coach Piper said.
Despite their strong showing, Central was far from perfect against the Colonials. The Blue Devils coughed the ball up 23 times, including seven in the first 10 minutes of action. Central also allowed Robert Morris to shoot a lofty 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc.
For the Colonials, both Megan Smith and Honoka Ikematsu led their team with 11 points while Ikematsu also had a team-high five assists. Jocelyn Jones was able to clean up the boards, leading her team with seven rebounds.
While Central made a run towards the end of the game, RMU made sure they wouldn’t let the win slip through their fingers. After picking up a 4-3 lead with 7:05 remaining the first quarter, the Colonials never trailed.
The Blue Devils didn’t come up with the victory against Robert Morris, however after starting on such a lengthy losing streak, making the tournament for the fourth straight year was no easy task. With all but Morgan Johnson and Briana Jacobs returning to the program, Coach Piper is excited for what is to come.
“We return nine of our 10 players next season and are very excited about their contributions and improvement of our freshman class this season,” Coach Piper said. “Making the NEC tournament the past four seasons has been great, but winning the tournament is our goal.”