Central Connecticut (3-3) held off a late Rhode Island (3-3) rally to capture the Rhody Classic championship with a 66-58 win over the host Rams. Tournament MOP Shontice Simmons, who had 23 points in CCSU's 74-66 win over Cornell yesterday, finished with 15 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists in today's victory. Sophomores Leanne Crockett and Kerrianne Dugan joined Simmons on the all-tournament team.
Crockett had her second double-double of the season, posting career-highs of 20 points and 13 rebounds in the win. Dugan, meanwhile, added 10 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils raced out to a 16-2 lead, holding URI without a field goal for the game's first 9:05. Crockett and Simmons each had three-pointers to highlight the Central Connecticut start. A jumper by freshman Lara Gaspar ended the Ram drought and started a 6-0 run. CCSU responded with a 12-4 stretch to take its biggest lead of the half at 28-12. The Blue Devils held their double-digit advantage heading to the break. They led 30-18.
Simmons had 10 points and five rebounds to lead all players over the first 20 minutes. Crockett added five points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals for CCSU, which had a 21-19 rebounding edge and held Rhode Island to 7-of-31 shooting. The Rams, who had four players with four points, were also 0-of-7 on three-pointers.
Central Connecticut pushed its lead back to 18 points, 43-25, at the start of the second half. A three-pointer from freshman Gabrielle Oglesby made it 47-28 with just over 11 minutes left on the clock, and the Blue Devils held off a late rally by the Rams to secure the win. The Rhode Island deficit dropped to single-digits with back-to-back and-one plays, and senior Ebony Evans scored four points against a Simmons lay-up to make it a 61-54 game with 1:49 left on the clock. URI never got closer the rest of the way.
CCSU shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half to finish the game with a 45.5 percent mark. The Blue Devils outrebounded Rhode Island, 37-34, and also had 15 assists on 20 baskets. The Rams improved their shooting in the second half, making 15-of-30 shots, but finished the game with just a 36.1 percent effort. Sophomore Megan Shoniker led URI with 17 points. She was named to the all-tournament alongside Bryant junior Kelsey O'Keefe, Cornell junior Lauren Benson, Crockett, Dugan and Simmons.
Simmons averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.0 assists over CCSU's two wins. Crockett contributed 12.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, while Dugan chipped in with 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The Rhody Classic title is Central Connecticut's second Thanksgiving time tournament win in the last four seasons. The Blue Devils won the Great Alaska Shootout during the 2005-06 season.
Central Connecticut will be back at home for its next contest, a 7 p.m. affair against Western Michigan, on Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Shontice Simmons
All-Tournament honorees Leanne Crockett (left) and Kerrianne Dugan