Women’s Basketball Stalled By Sacred Heart In Conference Opener

Ryan Jones, Assistant Sports Editor

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After a 3-7 record through their tough out of conference schedule, Central Connecticut was halted in their first Northeast Conference game of the year, losing 66-61 to Sacred Heart.

Last year, CCSU was able to defeat the Pioneers in both of their regular season games but struggled without senior captain Andi Lydon, who is day-to-day with a bad ankle sprain. Lydon is second on the team in points per game (9.4), but more importantly contributes a team-high 5.9 rebounds, an area that CCSU struggled in against Sacred Heart. On the offensive glass, Central was out-rebounded 15-7.

On filling Lydon’s role, coach Beryl Piper explained how “These kind of things sometimes make you better in the end. Somebody else gets more playing time, they get better, then, as you go down the wire, [you get] another kid coming off the bench that plays better.”

Sacred Heart came out of the gates with fire, taking an early 9-2 lead while the Blue Devils turned the ball over three times in the short-span. Coming out of timeout following the Sacred Heart run, CCSU was able to put together a 6-0 run ignited by an Ashley Berube layup to cut the lead to one. The Blue Devils were only able to score one point on a free throw for the remainder of the quarter, but only trailed 13-9 at the end of the first.

The Pioneers extended their lead in the second quarter, using an 11-2 run to go up 24-11. Berube shined for the Blue Devils during the tough second quarter, blocking four shots and scoring six of her 12 points. CCSU trailed Sacred Heart 31-23 heading into the half.

The Blue Devil offense came back to life in the second half. After grabbing a rare offensive board for Central, Ashley Forker was able to lay it back in for her first score of the game. Less than a minute later, she assisted Bruna Vila Artigues on a layup. Kiana Patterson would score two straight to give CCSU their first lead of the game at 32-31. Both teams battled after this 9-0 run, exchanging leads until the game sat tied at 38. The Pioneers snapped the tie with a 10-2 run to close out the quarter with a 48-40 lead.

The Blue Devils fought through the end, including seven fourth-quarter points from Forker, cutting the lead to just four in the final minutes. Ultimately, five points from the line, the Pioneers would seal the game for Sacred Heart, with a final score of 66-61.

On the loss, Piper believes her team “Played with a lot of fight,” but added that “We can play a lot better than we did, hopefully, next time out we can do that.”

The game plan was there for the Blue Devils, who had over a week to study film on their conference opponent.

“We knew exactly what this team does,” Piper explained. “They run their dribble-drive offense, we know exactly where they wanted to go with the ball. They did a better job at getting the ball out and we didn’t react as well, so we gave them open looks. We can’t do that. We had so much time to prepare for them that we were over prepared.”

The Blue Devils will look to bounce back from the loss on Monday in their conference home-opener against Wagner.