by Daniel Fappiano
Central Connecticut State University’s women’s basketball team hit a speed bump on their road to the Northeast Conference playoffs with losses to both LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis. The two defeats put CCSU at 2-17 on the season and 2-6 in NEC play.
The Blue Devils played one of their stronger games against LIU and seemed to be pulling away when they held an eight point lead with just six minutes remaining in the contest. However, the Blackbirds used a 16-1 run to end the game and come away with a 61-54 victory.
CCSU’s Kiana Patterson led the way with 14 points and nine assists while Ashley Berube held her own with eight rebounds. The nine assists marked Patterson’s season high whereas Berube’s eight boards were her second highest total of the season.
As for LIU, Denisha Petty-Evans took over, scoring a career-high 29 points while hitting 5-10 three pointers in the process. Deangelique Waite led the team with nine rebounds while Drew Winter racked up five assists.
Central looked like a much different team against LIU than they did two days earlier against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Blue Devils coughed the ball up just 10 times and allowed only 16 points in the paint against the Blackbirds compared to their 16 and 38, respectively, against the Terriers.
However, LIU’s aforementioned run did the Blue Devils in and led to their fourth straight loss. Head coach Beryl Piper shared her disappointment after a game in which she thought her team could have won.
“We couldn’t get it done at the end, we gave up and made some defensive mistakes,” Piper said. “We let #15 [Petty-Evans] go off when we really needed to deny her the ball and got knocked down a couple times. We didn’t box out and get rebounds at a key time in the game and it allowed them to go ahead. Really disappointing because we had the game, [it] was in our hands, ours to win and we made mistakes and we couldn’t make the plays at the end.”
Despite the loss, Piper was impressed with how Patterson was able to perform under adversity.
“Kiana was not feeling great, she was kind of struggling physically and she went out and played her heart out and tried to do the right things and make the right plays,” Piper said.
Despite the loss, the Blue Devils played one of their strongest games against LIU, proving they can make adjustments on their mistakes. Although, the same could not be said for their performance against St. Francis.
CCSU lost 87-59 and were outscored 50-30 in the second half. The Red Flash had six different players score in double figures whereas the Blue Devils had none.
Patterson and freshman Tiffany Slicklein scored a team high nine whereas Andi Lydon led the team in rebounds and assists with six and five receptively. The nine points scored marked a new career high for Slicklein. CCSU’s 59 points were their second highest scored in their past 14 games.
As for St. Francis, NEC-leading scorer Jessica Kovatch continued her run with 17 points while Ace Harrison and Maya Wynn led the team in rebounds and assists with eight and four, respectively. The Red Flash’s 87 points are the most Central has allowed since Virginia scored 103 on Nov. 12.
The Blue Devils again struggled with turnovers, coughing the ball up 17 times. Central also struggled on the defensive end as St. Francis was able to take and make good shots all game. The Red Flashes shot 46.5 percent from the field. SFU was able to crash the boards and out-rebounded CCSU 46-36.
In the matter of a week, Central played two entirely different games, yet still came away with two losses. At 2-6, ninth place in the conference, they have a steep climb ahead of them to reach the NEC tournament. They’ll look to earn a crucial conference win when they travel to take on Robert Morris next.