Women’s Basketball Wins Season Opener

By Brittany Burke

While the men’s basketball team traveled to Mohegan Sun to open the 2011 season against Yale in the Connecticut 6, the CCSU women’s team stayed in New Britain to debut their group of fresh talent against the University of Maine Black Bears.

“It was a little rough, we made a lot of mistakes. We’re really young so I think everyone had first game jitters, I know I did really badly,” said Jaclyn Babe. “When it came down to it, we made big time plays. We got big time rebounds and I think that’s what won it for us.”

Despite the amount of young talent, the Blue Devils opened home play with a 53-48 out-of-conference win.

Heading into Friday’s season opener, CCSU was on the losing end of a 2-9 record against Maine, but it was the home team who took charge of the game early.

With a 27-18 lead at half time, the Blue Devils fought to get the early lead, and would never lose it. The game changed hands three times, but CCSU never let go of the top spot following half time.

At one point the Blue Devils had the 40-29 lead over the Black Bears, but Maine slowly began to climb back, coming within four points, 46-42 with 2:50 left to play in the game. With 2:36 left, Maine’s Brittany Williams went up for two to put her team down by one shot.

“[Maine] basically came out in the second half and said we’re gonna get to the rim, we’re gonna attack them and that’s what they did,” said Head Coach Beryl Piper. “They just kept going to the basket and going to the basket and we really struggled defending and like I said, we have to get better. We knew what they were doing because they were doing it every single time.”

As time was running out both teams went back and forth to put final points on the board. Defensively, CCSU was cutting back on the chances that the Black Bears had, but the team managed to still get points on the board and cause the Blue Devils to scramble to keep the lead.

A rebound shot made by CCSU’s Kirsten Daamen increased the Blue Devils’ lead back to four, but Williams came back with two matching points with 39 seconds left.

“We did some things early and I think they picked up the intensity and I think we’re so young that you know that we’re gonna make some mistakes … they just haven’t played a real lot and I think down the wire when we needed some big rebounds we got some big rebounds and they were able to get it done when we needed to get it done so, any win’s a good win. Anyway, we can take it,” said Piper.

The final win was secured by fouls. With CCSU’s Lauren Arbogast at the line, she went 1-for-2. As soon as her second shot went up, Shareka Maner on Maine was fouled and sent to the line for two free throws, which she couldn’t sink.

Daamen and  Babe were both sent back to the free throw line inside the 10 second countdown, both going 1-for-2, they put the Blue Devils up 53-48 without enough time for Maine to stage a comeback.

“It was extremely nerve wracking, I knew the whole time [we were gonna win], I just had that feeling, I knew we were going to make those big plays because we have big time players that will step up in those situations,” said Babe. “We didn’t hit every foul shot, but we definitely hit the first ones which really help [the game] out and keep it going.”

Babe lead the team in points with 16, matching UMaine’s leading scorer, Ashleigh Roberts. Freshman Kaley Watras lead the team in rebounds with eight, while her classmates Johnna Fisher and Danielle Davis both had strong first showings.

CCSU outshot Maine at the free throw line, making 52.6 percent of their attempts, while the Black Bears made just shy of 45 percent. However, the Blue Devils committed 19 turnovers opposed to Maine’s 15.

The young Blue Devils head on the road for the next two games, first at Massachusetts, then closer to home to take on in-state rivals, the University of Hartford.

“[UHart is] gonna be fired up and ready to play us,” said Piper. “Last year we played them and had the experienced team and they had the inexperienced team and we played them here. This year is a reversed scenario and we’re playing in their gym and their house, they have good fan support so we need people to come out and support us.”

CCSU returns to home play on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m.