Sophomore Kerrianne Dugan had 17 points to lead Central Connecticut (12-8, 7-3) in a 76-64 Northeast Conference road loss against Sacred Heart (13-7, 10-0). Freshman Shontice Simmons added 13 points and three steals for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils scored the game's first four points on a pair of Dugan free throws and a layup from junior P.J. Wade. Sacred Heart went ahead 5-4, starting a stretch of seven lead changes in a tightly contested opening half.
A 7-0 run gave CCSU its largest lead, 15-8, but Sacred Heart responded with back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to retake the advantage. The three triples sparked a 12-2 run, which put the Pioneers in front by four points, 21-17. Senior Jhanay Harris hit a three-pointer to cut the margin to one, and layups from Simmons and freshman Gabrielle Oglesby gave the Blue Devils another lead, 24-22.
Freshman Callan Taylor hit Sacred Heart's fourth three-pointer of the half to give the hosts a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Sacred Heart led, 35-33, at halftime. Simmons had nine points to pace Central Connecticut over the opening 20 minutes. Oglesby added seven points, while sophomores Leanne Crockett and Justina Udenze each had six rebounds. Senior Stephanie Ryan led the Pioneers with 10 points. CCSU outrebounded Sacred Heart, 24-16.
The Pioneers opened the second half with a 23-6 run, lengthening their lead to 58-39. They made four of six second half threes during the run. Central Connecticut drew to within 14 points, 58-44, before two straight Sacred Heart threes made it a 20-point game. The Blue Devils would cut the deficit to nine points with 1:09 left to play, but they could not get any closer.
Wade added 11 points and seven rebounds to the efforts of Dugan and Simmons. Crockett, meanwhile, contributed nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Alisa Apo had 17 points for Sacred Heart, who connected on 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) second half shots. Apo was one of five Pioneers to post double figures in points. Ryan totaled 15, while Taylor had 13. Senior Kaitlin Sowinski and sophomore Maggie Cosgrove each had 11.
CCSU finished the game with a 32-18 advantage on points in the paint, but the Blue Devils gave up 16 points off 11 turnovers. Sacred Heart also hit 10 three-pointers against four for Central Connecticut.
The Blue Devils will end their three-game road stretch on Monday, Feb. 2, with a 7 p.m. contest at Wagner.