Freshman Shontice Simmons had 15 points and five assists to lead Central Connecticut (1-2) in a 65-57 win over Maine (0-2) in the Blue Devil home opener. Sophomore Leanne Crockett added seven points, seven rebounds, five steals, two assists and two blocks for CCSU.
Central Connecticut led at halftime but had to rally late to earn its first win of the young season. Maine opened the second half with an 11-2 run to take a 48-42 lead. The Black Bears held that advantage until the 3:38 mark. Simmons hit a pair of free throws to put CCSU out in front 56-55, and the Blue Devils would not relinquish their lead the rest of the way.
Junior Emily Rose added nine points, all on first half three-pointers, for Central Connecticut. Freshman Gabrielle Oglesby and junior captain P.J Wade each scored eight points, while sophomore Justina Udenze had six points, a team-high eight rebounds and a career-best four blocks. Junior Kristin Baker had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead Maine.
Maine took an early 7-2 lead, but the Blue Devils hit four consecutive three-pointers to go ahead 14-12 with 10:48 to play in the first half. Rose hit two of those triples. She added her third to put CCSU back in front, 17-15, after a Black Bear mini run. The lead changed 10 times in the first half, with Central Connecticut taking the final edge at the 2:38 mark. A Crockett three-pointer made it 35-33. Senior captain Jhanay Harris followed with another Blue Devil triple, CCSU's ninth of the half, to stretch the lead to five points. And, after back-to-back Maine baskets, Wade followed a Harris miss with a lay-in just before the break. Central Connecticut led 40-37.
Central Connecticut shot 50 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from behind the arc in the first half. Maine, meanwhile, hit 58.3 percent of its shots, including 55.6 percent from three-point range. Rose had a team-best nine points at the half. Sophomore Tanna Ross had 11 points to pace Maine.
Both teams cooled in the second half. After forging ahead by six points, 48-42, with the 11-2 run, Crockett and Wade made consecutive baskets for CCSU. Maine clung to a four-point edge until Udenze converted an and-one with 6:57 remaining in the game to make it 53-52. Maine stretched its lead to 55-52 and had possession, but Crockett stole a Colleen Kilmurrary pass and was rewarded with an easy lay-up off a pass from Udenze. Udenze blocked junior Brittany Boser at the other end of the floor, and Simmons went to the line on the ensuing possession.
Simmons put more distance between the Blue Devils and Maine with a three-pointer, jumper and two free throws down the stretch. She scored nine points over 3:02 from the 3:38 mark to the 00:36 mark. Sophomore Kerrianne Dugan iced the win, making a pair of free throws with 23 seconds remaining.
CCSU finished the game with a 23-of-58 shooting effort. And despite being outrebounded 39-32, the Blue Devils had a 17-5 advantage in second chance points. They also blocked nine shots and had 17 assists against just 16 turnovers. Maine turned the ball over 23 times. Simmons shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-6 on three-pointers. She was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line, where CCSU shot 9-of-12 as a team.
Boser added 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the loss. Ross totaled 13 points, while Kilmurray, a senior, had nine rebounds.
Central Connecticut will be at home again on Tuesday, Nov. 25.
The Blue Devils welcome Bryant for a 4 p.m. contest.