February 16, 2009

Blue Devils Rally for 71-69 Road Win Over Fairleigh Dickinson, Simmons Scores Team-High 15 Points

Freshman Shontice Simmons had 15 points, including 10 in the second half, in a 71-69 Central Connecticut (16-9, 11-3) comeback win at Fairleigh Dickinson (9-16, 8-7). Simmons also had six assists and four rebounds. Sophomore Justina Udenze had her second straight double-double effort, totaling 12 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Leanne Crockett added 14 points and nine rebounds, while classmate Kerrianne Dugan had nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. With the victory, Central Connecticut secured its first winning season since going 14-13 in 2000-01.

Central Connecticut fell behind 60-51 in the second half, but went on an 11-0 run to reclaim the lead with 3:21 remaining in the game. Fairleigh Dickinson went back in front on a three-pointer by sophomore Alyssa Mayrose and stretched its lead to 65-62 before CCSU rattled off a 6-0 counter. Simmons made it a 71-69 game with 1-of-2 at the foul line with six seconds left, and junior Jordan Sykes missed a runner at the buzzer. The Blue Devils outscored FDU, 20-9, over the final 6:59.

CCSU fell behind 5-0 to start the game, but the Blue Devils responded with a 6-0 run to take the lead at the 15:04 mark. Fairleigh Dickinson regained the advantage on a jumper from freshman Mariyah Laury. It would be FDU's last until the half's final seconds.

A three-pointer by senior Jhanay Harris capped an 8-0 Central Connecticut run to put the Blue Devils ahead 14-7. The margin would grow to eight points, 27-19, and CCSU led 33-26 with 4:11 left to play in the opening 20 minutes. Fairleigh Dickinson closed out the half with an 11-2 run to go ahead, 37-35, at the break. A jumper by Mayrose with 11 seconds left ended the half's scoring and gave FDU its first lead since 7-6.

Central Connecticut, which opened the game 1-of-7 from the field, connected on 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) shots, including 3-of-5 threes. Crockett had seven first half points to pace the Blue Devils. She also hauled in five rebounds. Simmons had five points and six assists. Laury led Fairleigh Dickinson with 13 points. Mayrose had 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. The Knights made 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) shots, including 3-of-4 three-pointers.

The Blue Devils trailed 49-42 less than five minutes into the second half, but a pair of Dugan free throws cut the FDU lead to 53-51 at the 12:16 mark. The Knights responded with seven unanswered points to build the 60-51 lead. Simmons hit a three and jumper to start the 11-0 Central Connecticut run. Udenze followed with a pair of free throws, and she and Crockett closed it out with back-to-back baskets.

Freshman Gabrielle Oglesby added 12 points and five rebounds in the win. Laury had 23 points to lead all players. Mayrose posted 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Central Connecticut outrebounded the Knights, 44-30, and had 19 assists on 26 makes.

Central Connecticut is back at home on Saturday, Feb. 21. The Blue Devils, who will celebrate Think Pink, Dr. Brenda Reilly and all alumni, play game two of a doubleheader with St. Francis (NY). The men's game will tip at 2 p.m. The women's contest will start at 4 p.m., or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.