Simmons Scores Career-Best 26 Points, Udenze Posts Double-Double in Blue Devil Loss at Bryant
Freshman Shontice Simmons scored a career-high 26 points to lead Central Connecticut (15-9, 10-3) in an 85-76 non-conference loss at Bryant (7-16). Sophomore Justina Udenze posted her second career double-double for the Blue Devils, totaling 11 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Gabrielle Oglesby, meanwhile, had 16 points and five rebounds.
Bryant made 5-of-8 shots to open the game. The start helped build a 13-3 lead, the largest of the half. The Bryant advantage was 21-12 before a 9-0 Central Connecticut run tied it with 7:30 remaining in the half. Oglesby started the Blue Devil run with a layup and two free throws. Simmons followed with a three-point play, and Udenze capped the stretch with a pair of makes at the line. Junior Kelsey O'Keefe ended Bryant's drought with a three-pointer, putting the Bulldogs up for the rest of the opening 20 minutes. They led 34-32 at halftime.
Simmons led CCSU with nine first half points. Udenze added eight points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. O'Keefe had 15 points and two blocks for Bryant, which finished the half 14-of-32 (43.8 percent) from the floor. Central Connecticut had a 23-21 rebounding edge and eight steals. The Blue Devils forced 11 Bryant turnovers.
Bryant shot 6-of-8 to start the second half and push its lead out to 47-41. Junior P.J. Wade tied the game at 36-36 early in the half, but the Bulldogs continued their hot shooting (12-of-18) and went ahead 67-48 with just over eight minutes left to play. The double-digit lead held until a pair of free throws from sophomore Kerrianne Dugan made its 74-65 with 1:59 remaining. A three-pointer from Simmons got CCSU to within eight, 82-74, with less than a minute to play, but that would be the closest margin. O'Keefe made 9-of-10 free throws over the final two minutes to secure the win.
O'Keefe finished with a season-best 32 points to lead all players. In addition to Simmons, Oglesby and Udenze, Wade (12) and Dugan (11) scored in double figures for the Blue Devils. It was the second straight game CCSU had five players reach double-digits. Bryant, which shot 65.2 percent in the second half, made 29-of-55 shots (52.7 percent), including 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) threes, for the game. Senior Cara Johnson added 14 points, all in the second half, and seven rebounds for Bryant.
Central Connecticut will keep to the road, resuming Northeast Conference play on Monday, Feb. 16 at Fairleigh Dickinson. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.