by Daniel Fappiano
After entering the week on a four-game win streak, the CCSU women’s basketball team suffered two crucial Northeast Conference losses to Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis (PA), respectively. The two defeats moved the Blue Devils from sixth to eighth in the NEC with just three games remaining.
Central struggled mightily against Mount St. Mary’s, losing 76-56. Freshman Emma McCamus led the team in points with 12 and was the only scorer in double digits for the Blue Devils. Denisha Gardener had a team-high nine rebounds while Kiana Patterson had five assists.
The Mountaineers came into the game losing four of their last five, yet had one of their better games offensively. Carolina Hummel led the team in scoring with 17 while Juliette Lawless had a double-double with 12 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. Lawless also led the team in assists with five.
As a team, the Blue Devils shot just 28 percent from the floor, whereas Mount St. Mary’s shot 48 percent. The Mount was also able to hit nine threes compared to Central’s four. This game marked the first time since their Jan. 29 match-up against Robert Morris that both Patterson and Andi Lydon were held to single digits. Conversely, their 56 points were also CCSU’s lowest total since their match-up with RMU.
Central’s struggles against Mount St. Mary’s were mainly offensive, however against the Red Flash of St. Francis (PA), the Blue Devils’ biggest downfall was consistency. After holding a 45-36 halftime lead and an eight-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, CCSU was outscored 29-11 by SFU, losing the game 85-75.
For the Blue Devils, Patterson led the team in scoring with 17 while Lydon had a team-high nine boards. Freshman Ashley Forker dished a game-high four assists. As a team, Central shot much better, hitting 44 percent from the floor. The 75 points is their second-highest total of the season.
St. Francis (PA), one of only two teams to have already clinched a spot in the NEC tournament, struggled in the first half, shooting just 29 percent from the field. However, they came out firing in the second half, shooting 44 percent and outscoring Central 49-30.
The Red Flash were led by NEC leading scorer Jessica Kovatch, who put up 29. Ace Harrison had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while two different players led SFU with three assists.
Outside of stopping Kovatch, CCSU’s biggest problem was their inability to maintain their lead and close out in the fourth quarter. A leading factor in that issue was a critical technical foul call against Denisha Gardener with 7:50 remaining in the game. While seemingly accidental, Gardener hit an SFU player in the face, causing her to bleed from the nose. The score was 69-63 in Central’s favor, however, following the technical, the Red Flash outscored CCSU 22-6.
Following the game, head coach Beryl Piper said that the technical foul was definitely a momentum killer for the team. She went to state how it was the “little things” that went wrong for her team against the Red Flash.
“It’s key little things, you make a defensive mistake here or there, they came down and hit free throws and then the technical foul, little by little they were chipping away,” Piper said. “We gave up 29 points in the fourth period, we just couldn’t put 40 minutes together tonight.”
With one week remaining and three games left on the schedule, Central continues to battle for a spot in the NEC tournament. Coach Piper understands how crucial her team’s remaining games are.
“We’ve got to be ready to play,” Piper said. “Every single game is a playoff game for us, everybody is battling for that position.”
CCSU will look to get back in the win column as they take on Robert Morris at home next before ending their season on a two-game road trip against St. Francis (BKN) and LIU Brooklyn.