Freshman Shontice Simmons scored 21 second half points to lead Central Connecticut (2-3) from 11 points down at the break in a 74-66 win over Cornell (2-3) at the Rhody Classic. Cornell shot 57.7 percent from the floor, including 77.8 percent on three-pointers, to build a 41-30 halftime lead, but Simmons and the Blue Devils outscored the Big Red 44-25 over the final 20 minutes. Simmons finished with a game-high 23 points, while sophomore Kerrianne Dugan added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Junior Virginia McMunigal scored the game's first 11 points and had Cornell's first 13 points. Sophomore Leanne Crockett hit a three-pointer to end the Big Red's 11-0 start to the game, and Central Connecticut gradually cut into the advantage. Blue Devil sophomore Kerrianne Dugan twice cut the margin to eight points, but the Big Red ran off six unanswered points to take a 25-11 lead. Cornell stretched its lead to 39-20 before CCSU ended the half on a 10-2 run.
McMunigal led all players with 13 first half points. Dugan had eight to pace the Blue Devils. Crockett added five points and seven rebounds. Cornell hit 15-of-26 shots, including 7-of-9 three-pointers. Junior Lauren Benson added seven points and four assists for the Big Red.
Central Connecticut drew to within seven points, 41-34, to start the second half, and a three-pointer from senior Jhanay Harris made it 49-44 with just over 13 minutes remaining. Dugan tied the game with a triple a little more than a minute later, and Simmons made a three-pointer at the 8:42 mark to give Central Connecticut its first lead. Benson hit a three-pointer, was fouled, and made the resulting free throw to make it a 65-62 game with 3:25 left to play, but CCSU did not relinquish its lead, which was stretched out to 70-62 at one point.
The Blue Devils shot 42.9 percent from the field and beyond the arc in the second half. They held Cornell to a 32.1 percent clip, including 16.7 percent on three-point tries. CCSU had 11 assists against nine turnovers during the game. The Blue Devils turned the ball over just twice in the second half. They forced 15 total Big Red miscues and had a 41-31 rebounding advantage. Central Connecticut also scored 25 points off 17 offensive rebounds and outscored Cornell 32-10 in the paint.
Crockett finished with a game-high 11 rebounds. She also totaled five points, three assists and two steals. Sophomore Justina Udenze added 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks for the Blue Devils. McMunigal had 15 points to lead Cornell. Benson chipped in with 11 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Central Connecticut will face Rhode Island tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 29, at 2 p.m.