by Daniel Fappiano
With the Northeast Conference Tournament inching closer, CCSU’s women’s basketball team has found their groove, putting together a three-game winning streak. After defeating Fairleigh Dickinson and Bryant, the Blue Devils now sit in a four-way tie for fifth place in the NEC at 5-7.
Going into their match-up with the Knights, Fairleigh Dickinson was riding a five-game winning streak. Central was able to end that streak in dominating fashion, holding a lead for 36:08 and defeating FDU 76-56.
For Central, three different players scored in double figures with Andi Lydon scoring a team-high 21. Lydon and Tiffany Slicklein led the team with seven rebounds while Kiana Patterson dished out seven assists. Junior guard Sydney Hines scored a career-high 19 while the 76 points total is the highest for the Blue Devils all season.
As for Farleigh Dickinson, Lauren Francillon scored a team-high 14 points. Amina Markovic and Natalie Zamora led their team in rebounds and assists with 10 and two, respectively. The Knights struggled shooting the ball, hitting just 37 percent from the field.
Where Farleigh Dickinson struggled, the Blue Devils shined. Central shot 47 percent from the field, hitting 11-23 from behind the arc. CCSU had one of their best rebounding performances, grabbing 47 boards compared to FDU’s 29. While they turned the ball over 19 times, CCSU’s bench shined, scoring 25 compared to the Knight’s 10.
Head coach Beryl Piper was impressed by how her team was able to perform so well against a tough competitor in Farleigh Dickinson.
“When we went down to FDU, we probably played our worst game,” Piper said. “We really struggled and we had a lot to prove tonight. We played so well the other day [Feb. 3 win over Sacred Heart] and our mentality was to go back-to-back. It feels so good, it feels so good for these kids, they work so hard and this is what it’s about, they’re starting to find themselves,” Piper said.
The Blue Devils were able to continue their momentum as they took on Bryant. While this match-up was much more contested, Central was able to come away with a crucial NEC win, 66-59.
Lydon again led the team in points and rebounds with 21 and 12, respectively. The junior forward tied Patterson for the team-high in assists with 3. Lydon’s performance marked her third in a row with double-digit points and at least seven rebounds.
For Bryant, Sydney Holloway led her team with 19 points and nine rebounds. Kierra Palmer dished out a team-high six assists. Bryant’s 59 points scored is their lowest total since their late December match-up against James Madison.
Central actually trailed 49-44 entering the fourth quarter. However, they outscored the Bulldogs 22-10 to end the game and come away with the win.
The Blue Devils shot just 30 percent from the field, but they shined from the free throw line, going 20-21. They continued their strong rebounding effort, pulling down 47 boards, with 12 being offensive.
Piper was overjoyed with how her team was able to battle adversity and string together three straight wins.
“It’s so relieving. I’m so proud of them and happy for them because when we went through the beginning part of the season and struggled as much as we did, it didn’t bring out the worst in them, they came every day and were ready to go the next day,” Piper said. “I’m so happy for them because they’re seeing and understanding how to not feel sorry for themselves and that kind of stuff pays off, so now they’re getting rewarded for that, I’m just really happy for them.”
While the Blue Devils have won three straight games, there are still six more games before the NEC tournament. Central will look to stay on track when they head to Wagner next.