CCSU Women’s Basketball Season Ends at Sacred Heart

Andrew DeCapua, Sports Editor

The Central Connecticut State University women’s basketball team came up short against in-state rival Sacred Heart University in the opening round of the Northeast Conference Tournament on Saturday, March 5, in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Pioneers ended the Blue Devils’ season, 65-58, in a hard-fought battle that featured many lead changes until the final minute of the game.

CCSU came out strong in the first quarter and went on a 9-0 run after SHU scored the game’s first four points.

Hot-shooting by the Blue Devils mixed with some foul trouble for the Pioneers gave CCSU an 18-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

CCSU, uncharacteristically, shot the lights out in the first quarter hitting on 4 out of 7 from beyond the three-point line while SHU failed to make a single three-pointer.

Sacred Heart began to push the pace in the second quarter and used the transition game to create some easy baskets, which allowed them to regain the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.

The two teams went back and forth in the final minutes of the second quarter, exchanging the lead three times. They entered the locker room at halftime tied 28-28.

It was more of the same in the third quarter, and both teams battled as the lead continued to change hands with what seemed like every possession. CCSU’s senior Ashley Berube made a layup deep in the post to start the second half, scoring for the Blue Devils. Sacred Heart quickly answered right back with a beautiful back door-cutting jump shot that left the defender clueless.

SHU’s junior center Carly Stroemel went down with an apparent leg injury midway through the third quarter, and that opened the door for CCSU’s Berube, who scored most of her 13 points after the Stroemel injury.

The back and forth shoot-out continued for most of the fourth quarter. SHU quickly jumped out to a four-point lead to start the fourth, but the Blue Devils came right back with a big three from sophomore Claire Sutherland-Case and a post bucket from senior Eden Nibbelink to regain the lead.

SHU was able to draw fouls and hit their free throws in the game’s final minutes to give them a five-point lead. Two made free throws from CCSU’s freshman Belle Lanpher cut SHU’s lead to just three points, but back-to-back airballs by the Blue Devils allowed the Pioneers to put it away from there.

Nibbelink led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding with 15 and 11, respectively. Berube compiled 13 points and added eight rebounds, while Lanpher led the team in assists with five.

With the season now over, the Blue Devils will regroup for next season. With key contributing seniors such as Berube, Nibbelink, and Forever Toppin potentially moving on, they will replace them with either players already on the roster or by bringing in new talent.