Sophomore Trio Leads Blue Devils to 2-0 Start in Conference Play, CCSU Defeats Long Island 66-49

Sophomore Trio Leads Blue Devils to 2-0 Start in Conference Play, CCSU Defeats Long Island 66-49

A trio of sophomores combined for 47 points to lead Central Connecticut (5-4, 2-0) in a 66-49 Northeast Conference road win over Long Island (4-5, 0-1). Leanne Crockett (17 points), Justina Udenze (16 points) and Kerrianne Dugan (14 points) led the Blue Devils to their first 2-0 start against league opponents since the 2000-01 season. The 5-4 overall record is also the best since that campaign. The three also combined to shoot 19-of-25 from the floor. Crockett made 6-of-9, including 3-of-4 from three-point distance. Udenze shot 7-of-9, and Dugan made 6-of-7.

Central Connecticut converted 27-of-50 (54.0 percent) from the field and made 8-of-9 at the free throw line. On the other end of the floor, the Blue Devils limited Long Island to 19-of-61 (31.1 percent) shooting, including a 1-of-16 effort from three-point range. CCSU held its opponent under 50 points for the second straight game.

The Blue Devils led by as many as 11 points in the first half. They built a 7-2 lead, but LIU responded with six unanswered points. The two teams traded baskets before CCSU took the first half lead for good on a Udenze jumper. Long Island stayed with one point, 18-17, until a 10-0 Central Connecticut run set the score at 28-17 with 4:07 remaining in the period. Five separate Blue Devils scored during the stretch. Freshman Ashley Palmer narrowed the Blackbird margin with six points over the final three minutes. Central Connecticut led 32-26 at the break.

Dugan had 12 points to lead CCSU over the opening 20 minutes. Crockett added seven points, four rebounds and two assists. The Blue Devils shot 51.9 percent from the floor and outrebounded their hosts 21-17. Palmer had 12 points and eight rebounds to pace Long Island, which connected on 33.3 percent of its shots.

Long Island sophomore Chelsi Johnson scored the second half's opening basket, cutting the margin to 32-28. However, junior P.J. Wade capped a 7-2 Blue Devil run with a three-pointer. The 7-2 run turned into a 16-6 run, as CCSU took a 48-32 lead with 13:11 remaining in the game. The Blackbirds drew to within 11 points, 52-41, but could not get any closer.

Both teams struggled from the field over the final eight minutes. Wade had a traditional three-point play to give CCSU a 58-41 lead at the 8:01 mark. And, despite not making another field goal over the proceeding 5:56, CCSU held on to the 17-point lead with solid defense and clutch free throw shooting. The Blue Devils held LIU to just one make from the field, and Crockett and Udenze each hit a pair from the line to keep the lead in double figures.

Crockett added seven rebounds and four assists to her team-best 17-point performance. Udenze had four rebounds and two blocks to go with her career-best 16 points, and freshman Shontice Simmons pulled down a season-high 11 rebounds. CCSU finished the game with a 42-27 rebounding margin. Palmer led Long Island with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Central Connecticut will be off until Monday, Dec. 22 when it travels to Fordham for non-conference action. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.