Starting Lineup Changes Spark Women’s Basketball To Win


CCSU Athletics

Dejah Jenkins posted six points in the loss against Merrimack.

Trevi Alickolli, Sports Editor

Central Connecticut went with a different starting lineup against Long Island University and it propelled them to their first victory after eight straight losses.

Guard Forever Toppin started over Bruna Vila Artigues and in the process, contributed a career-high 18 points in her first start since the beginning of the season.

Toppin and interim head coach Kerri Reaves contributed her strong game to a good week of preparation in practice.

“She works every day in practice,” Reaves said. “I’m glad she responded well to the start, she had two really good days of practice. We thought we’d give her a chance to start since shes worked really hard and she hasn’t started since the beginning of the season.”

“I think I came in prepared, I had two really good practices, I came into the gym early today and I had really supportive teammates behind me,” Toppin said. “It was a really good day for me.”

In addition to her scoring, Toppin also added two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Three other Blue Devils scored in double figures against LIU. Ashley Chin scored 11, Ashley Berube scored 10 while Emma McCamus also scored 10.

Reaves said she believes this is a good stepping stone for her team, who was able to be consistent in all four quarters for the first time in a long time.

“We did a really good job of scoring in all four quarters,” Reaves said. “I think for us, moving forward, it was really important for us to score 21 points in the fourth quarter. We also actually defended really well. I was really happy with the way that our team executed on offense and on defense.”

As far as making the change in their starting point guard, Reaves said that she is confident in both of her point guards whether they’re coming off the bench or not.

“We’re very fortunate because they bring such a different dynamic every time one of them is in the game,” Reaves said. “Bruna is very heady, she’s going to get everyone in the right places, shes going to run really good offense, shes always going to be in the right spot. Forever, she’s more of a transition point guard, she likes to get it out and go. It’s literally like having the best of both worlds.”

Before they faced Long Island University, the Blue Devils faced Merrimack University and lost 56-46.

Central once again started the game playing well and was only down four at halftime against the Warriors but another slow third quarter, in which the Blue Devils scored a mere seven points, diminished any hope of a victory for them.

Last week, Reaves said she hopes this is not a trend for her team but that is exactly what it is shaping up to be.

After the slow start at the beginning of the second half, Reaves opted to pull the starters and roll with the backups the rest of the way. Four out of five starters for Central played less than 20 minutes and 13 different Blue Devils cracked the rotation this past Sunday.

Center Ashley Berube led her team with 14 points and was the only starter to play more than 20 minutes, logging in 27. She also added eight rebounds, which tied Forever Toppin for the team-high on Sunday.

Jenkins, Danielle Delano and Chin all scored six points and were tied for second on the team.

The Blue Devils attempted 64 shots against the Warriors and connected on one more than their opponent but still lost by 10 points.

The difference came from downtown. Central did not connect on any of their three-point attempts while Merrimack made seven three-pointers.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot against Merrimack,” Reaves said. “Going nine of 30 from inside of the paint. If we make those, we don’t even have to shoot from the three.”

Despite the loss to Merrimack University, the Blue Devils responded well against the Sharks and have a win going into their last game of the season.

Reaves said this is a big step for her and her program.

“That’s a big boost for our kids mentally,” Reaves said. “Even to build on for next year.”

Central will close out their regular season against St. Francis Brooklyn on March 5, and also honor their seniors on their last home game of the season.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. as the Blue Devils look to close out their season with a two-game losing streak.