Sophomore Justina Udenze's putback with 1.8 seconds left gave Central Connecticut (8-5, 3-0) a 51-49 Northeast Conference road victory over Monmouth (5-9, 0-4). Udenze finished with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. Junior P.J. Wade and sophomore Leanne Crockett led the Blue Devils with 13 points each. With the win, CCSU is now 3-0 in Northeast Conference play for the first time in program history.
Wade scored the first six Blue Devil points, giving Central Connecticut an early 6-3 lead. After a Crockett layup, Monmouth freshman Alexis Canady hit the second of her two first half three-pointers to put the Hawks in front, 9-8. Monmouth stretched its lead to four points and was ahead 15-11 before a Crockett triple started a 9-0 CCSU run. Udenze put Central Connecticut ahead 16-15, and the Blue Devils would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the half.
Wade led Central Connecticut with nine first half points. Crockett added eight points, while Udenze had four points and six rebounds. The Blue Devils limited Monmouth to 8-of-34 (23.5 percent) shooting and scored eight points off nine turnovers. Senior Jennifer Bender had seven points to pace the Hawks, who posted a 25-18 rebounding advantage.
CCSU stretched its lead to six to start the second half, but Monmouth rallied over the next six minutes to tie the game at 33-33 on a jumper by freshman Alexis Scott. Bender put the Hawks ahead, 34-33, after going 1-of-2 at the free throw line. It would be the final Monmouth lead, however.
Crockett connected for a three-pointer to put Central Connecticut back in front, and sophomore Kerrianne Dugan, CCSU's leading scorer, converted a three-point play for her first points of the game. Moments later, freshman Shontice Simmons took a feed from Crockett for a fast break layup following a Wade block. It gave CCSU its largest lead, 43-36, of the game. Monmouth again came back, tying the game at 49-49 with less than a minute remaining. However, Central Connecticut had the ball for the rest of the game.
Simmons missed a runner in the lane, got her own rebound and then had her shot blocked out of bounds by Bender. Crockett then missed a three-point attempt off the inbounds play, but Udenze grabbed the board and converted for the win.
In addition to their 13-point efforts, Wade and Crockett each had five rebounds. Simmons finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Scott led Monmouth with 16 points. She also had seven rebounds. Bender added 14 points, four rebounds and three blocks in the loss.
Central Connecticut will continue Northeast Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 10. The Blue Devils return home to host Fairleigh Dickinson in a 2 p.m. contest.